Studies about high-rise housing can be characterised by their diversity and disagreement. A variety of interpretations has been used to study the rationale and practices of constructing housing of this kind. The ambiguity of high-rise housing is partly related to the fact that the values and functions attributed to it have varied from continent to continent, between regions and within specific countries, both at one point in time and over long periods. This paper will reconsider high-rise housing in a broad ecological, political and social context including the experience of diverse individuals and groups. It will examine high-rise housing not only in terms of architectural, commodity and economic dimensions, but also in terms of personal experience, the health and well-being of the residents, and the use of resources. The merits and shortcomings of this kind of residential building will be considered in terms of their intended and unintended impacts.