What is a Landscraper?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2019
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A landscraper is a building which is designed to provide the same amount of space as a skyscraper, without projecting as high. As a result, landscrapers sprawl out across the landscape, because they require a larger footprint to meet their area requirements. You could think of a landscraper as a skyscraper on its side, and in fact many clumsily designed landscrapers bear an eerie resemblance to toppled skyscrapers.

Depending on how a landscraper is designed and one's own aesthetic and cultural views, such buildings could be viewed as innovative, or horrific. Fans of the landscraper design point out that such buildings can be designed to flow more naturally with the environment, fitting snugly into the ground without obstructing the view. This feature makes them popular along waterfronts and in other areas where a view is regarded as important.

Other people feel that the design is not very ecologically sound, because it covers ground which could be used as greenspace with a building, although this could be compensated for with a green roof. Landscrapers can also tend to resemble the blocky, sturdy Soviet architecture of the 1960s, which many people view as an architectural blight. While a landscraper may maximize potential space for retail, offices, and homes without changing the skyline radically, some people would prefer to see a skyscraper surrounded by open space, rather than a solid block of building.


One of the advantages to a landscraper in the eyes of developers is that it contains a great deal of retail space when contrasted with a skyscraper. Retail space is often extremely profitable, but retailers usually expect to be on the lower floors of a building, for convenience. By making a building long and squat, rather than tall and lean, developers can ensure lots of potential retail space to sell or rent out, thereby turning a large profit.

Some city planning commissions and growth advocates are opposed to the landscraper concept, because it can be wasteful when available space is limited. A landscraper may also have an impact on traffic patterns; sometimes these buildings are so large that roads are actually run under them so that the flow of traffic is not interrupted. Furthermore, a landscraper can radically change the nature of a neighborhood, thanks to its sheer size, which is markedly different from a row of buildings or a small cluster of skyscrapers.


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