|Burj Khalifa Tower - Source:|
The tallest building in the European Union is currently The Shard’ in London. Completed in 2012. The building stands at what now seems to be a modest 309.6 metres, when you take into consideration the buildings on the CTBUH list. In fact if all of the under construction and planned buildings on the list are completed, The Shard will not even appear in the top hundred and fifty buildings in the World by 2021, even though it currently sits as the 80th highest completed building in the World.
|Kingdom Tower, Jeddah - Under Construction - Source:|
As an example let us consider one of the fundamental needs, water supply, in a very high building. If we consider the provision of a water supply pipe from the bottom of the building to the top, it is easy to imagine why this could prove to be problematic. As previously stated the current highest building in the World is 828 metres high. Therefore trying to ensure that the water supply travels such a long distance in a vertical direction and can be used at the right pressure when needed is never going to be straightforward:
‘Plumbing is one of the more challenging problems to solve due to the loss in pressure as water travels up a vertical pipe. Plumbing engineers found out that as you lift water above a datum, you lose 1 pound per square inch for every 2.3 feet of elevation. This small but incremental loss makes achieving high water pressure at the top of a water column very difficult. Most water fixtures require at least 25 psi to operate or flush properly, so measures to ensure consistent water pressure throughout the building must be implemented. As the building get taller, another problem arises as the water pressure at the bottom of a vertical pipe becomes too great for safe operation and building codes’
‘The early solution to this problem was a water tank mounted on the top of a building with fill pumps at the bottom of the building. Water is supplied to occupants through a simple gravity down feed system. Today, a system of pressure-reducing valves and sub-risers are used to manage the inconsistent water pressure throughout a skyscraper. Pressure-reducing valves reduce the pressure at the bottom of the building, while sub-risers increase the pressure for the skyscrapers upper floors. Today’s systems lack a main tank, but rather integrate the whole system within a buildings walls and basement’ (Source: http://www.allaboutskyscrapers.com/)
The above discusses a single issue to demonstrate the complexity of design issues in respect of building higher. Other issues such as sewage, lifts, emergency escape, fire fighting provision, earthquakes (and many others ) etc. could equally have been selected, as they pose significant design challenges for very high buildings. Despite this it appears from buildings on the CTBUH list, that these issues are not standing in the way of buildings becoming evermore higher. This then poses a question. ‘Is there a limit to how high we can build?’ Well, at present it appears not, but surely there has to be a limit? On May 6th 1954 when Roger Bannister broke the four minute mile, there were many who thought that this would never be beaten. The record has since been broken a further eighteen times since then, with the current record being held by Moroccan, Hicham El Guerrouj achieving a time of 3.43.13 in Rome in 1999. This also seems to be the case with high rise buildings, motivated by our human desire ‘to go one better’ than the previous best.
Who knows what human ingenuity will produce in the future? The possibilities seem endless. In fact take a look at the list of ‘all’ tall buildings on the CTBUH database and you will see that there is a ‘vision’ to build at a height of 4000 metres in Tokyo, Japan. This is four times higher than the Jeddah Tower which will become the new highest building in the World when completed in a few years time. This vision appears hard to believe however I am sure many thought the same about a human being running a mile in less than four minutes prior to 1953, so you never know……..
Try to take the time to look at this fascinating documentary which shows how the current highest building in the World was constructed.
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