Cranes: A Sign Of Positive Change

Cranes are often seen in major cities punctuating the skyline, from London to Dubai. Though regarded by many as an eyesore, they are a very good sign.

In Japanese mythology, folding a thousand origami cranes (the bird and not the lifting equipment) is said to bring luck and grant the folder any wish. Perhaps some of this lucky symbolism that surrounds the cranes of ornithology should be transferred to the cranes of technology.

There is a good chance that all of those cranes you see in the city centre are a sign of economic growth.

Development means progress

In Britain the property and real estate industry generates a huge amount of money and jobs every year. It is a natural assumption that improved and regular property development in an area will result in more money generated there.

The British Property Federation state that £1 spent on construction creates £2.09 for the economy as well providing a lot of jobs. Of the 900,000 people directly employed by the commercial property industry, 526,000 of those work in the construction side of the industry.

Cranes are a sign of construction and property growth, so although they might not be to your aesthetic taste, they are probably doing a lot of good for a lot of people.

David Cameron’s recent pledge to help get young people on the property ladder by building 200,000 low-price homes will certainly require some cranes. In return for being exempt from section 106 affordable housing contributions, the developers of the new homes will offer a 20% discount to first-time buyers under the age of 40.

High rises help

Though cranes are used in a multitude of construction projects, the tower cranes that we see on the London skyline are usually being used to create something big. The contemporary high rise that finds itself situated in nearly every city centre can conjure many ideas: you may think of new office space or that there is another swanky new piece of architecture to make that city interesting. Although they cost a lot of money to build, you may also think of the economic benefits.

High rises create an increase in density as they work vertically rather than horizontally, creating more real estate space per square mile. One of the advantages of this, perhaps surprisingly, is sustainability: the more a building goes up, the less a city has to sprawl into greenfield areas.

There is also a strong argument that commercial property density, by increasing the space in a city, helps the economy by increasing productivity. It does this in four ways:

  • Increasing specialisation – large cities need people to be a specialist in their fields, improving efficiency and expertise.
  • Sharing knowledge – between companies within and without the same sector, helping to increase innovation.
  • Increased competition – lots of companies in a small space will mean each will work harder to be the best.
  • Large labour markets – this allows recruiters to pick the best of the best and large labour markets create big scale economies.

Without cranes we’d be stuck

None of this is possible without the technology of cranes – or if it were it would take such a long time that it would no longer be economically viable (and it certainly wouldn’t be sustainable).

Put your feelings regarding the crane to one side, whether you see it as an ugly member of the cityscape or part of the interesting ballet of construction, it is likely that those cranes are a sign of prosperity.