In Brunei, if you have lots of money and want to impress your friends and neighbours, you might build a big house; and although it might be vast, sprawling over a large area, it is unlikely to be very tall. Most houses in Brunei, however big they are, are only two storeys.
In contrast, in a more densely populated town, the way to make a statement about your wealth and importance is to build high. Look at this view of the skyline of Regensburg.Of course, the cathedral dominates, as one would expect. But many of the other towers are not part of churches; they are private houses.
Here is one of the tallest. It was built in about 1250, though it was extended to its current height in about 1300. In fact, at that time there seems to have been quite a competition to see who could build the tallest and most impressive tower.
Of course, the same is true around the world today, with developers competing to build the tallest building in Chicago, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, Dubai .... Nothing has changed!
My guess is that one other reason for trying to build something high, such as the towers in Regensburg, is that in the past a busy town such as this would probably have been quite smelly; so if you could build something taller, you would get fresher air. It must have been quite a climb to get to the top, but maybe it was worth it for the quality of the air you got up there.
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