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Engineering Wonders of the World

In the UK and beyond, we’re surrounded by stunning feats of architecture and engineering. The Shard is one of the most famous modern architectural pieces and is also the tallest building in the UK.

When compared to structures and skyscrapers across the world though, the Shard seems diminutive in comparison. There’s no doubt that these monoliths are true engineering wonders and inspiration to architects all around the world.

Here, we discuss two of the tallest and most impressive skyscrapers across the world and two more that are in construction and could steal the crown of the most impressive engineering wonder of the world.

The Burj Khalifa (829.9 metres tall)

The current tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa (pictured, above) dwarfs the structures around it. The 162-floor skyscraper sits in the heart of Dubai, a city known for its impressive architecture. When it was completed, the Burj Khalifa broke a lot of records, including the world’s highest outdoor observation deck, the longest elevator travel distance, and the world’s highest occupied floor.

As well as smashing world records, the Burj Khalifa has been nominated for and won prestigious awards. It wasn’t initially intended to reach its now-famous soaring heights – the building was only planned to be 550 metres tall. The Burj Khalifa is well-known for its pioneering concrete technology and innovative spire, which comes out of the top of the building. The Y-shaped design is based on Hymenocallis, a desert flower.

The Shanghai Tower (632 metres tall)

The second tallest building in the world, the Shanghai Tower stands head and shoulders above the Shanghai skyline. It also holds the title of the world’s second-highest hotel, with the 84th-110th floors designated as guesthouses.

Utilising modern innovations in engineering, the Shanghai Tower has a concrete core instead of a steel framework. The building uses 980 concrete piles to make it earthquake-proof because it’s located in an area prone to earthquakes. The cylindrical spiralling design of the building makes it aerodynamic too. All of these factors combine to make the Shanghai Tower a truly spectacular engineering feat.

Jeddah Tower (expected to be 1,000 metres tall)

The Burj Khalifa may soon lose its status as the tallest building in the world if the Jeddah Tower is completed according to plan. Construction on this monolith began in 2013, but progress has stalled in recent years due to the pandemic.

The Jeddah Tower is expected to be so tall that it’ll reach into the clouds – imagine getting a bird’s-eye view of the clouds from a room in the tallest building on Earth! As with many of the existing tallest buildings in the world, the Jeddah Tower will be multi-use and include facilities such as hotels, living quarters, and restaurants. The tower represents Saudi Arabia’s goal to diversify its economy and become a tourist hotspot, thus reducing its reliance on oil revenue.

Like the Burj Khalifa, the tower’s one-of-a-kind shape is inspired by a desert plant. Its concrete pile base, which often requires structural design software to be truly effective, reinforces the building and protects it from dangerous weather.

Merdeka PNB 118 (678.9 metres tall)

A futuristic name to match a futuristic design. The Merdeka PNB 118 is still under construction, but the spire of the building was completed in November 2021. The uniquely designed structure is visible in the Malaysian skyline, with full construction expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

As well as its innovative geometric design, the Merdeka PNB 118 has multiple sustainability accreditations to its name – something that’s becoming more important in architectural design as global efforts to halt climate change continue. This stunning feat of structural engineering is proof that sustainable design and construction is not only important, but can also be done without compromising the structure.

Skyscraper designs require genuine innovation to be effective and durable, and it’s safe to say these current and upcoming structures have innovation at their heart. Not to mention they’re some of the most stunning modern buildings in existence. Will we see the Jeddah Tower overtake the Burj Khalifa as the tallest structure in the world in the near future? Only time will tell.

IOSH study: Apps can ensure safer buildings

Digital apps can help construction project designers create safer buildings by improving their knowledge of hazards during the design phase.

That’s according to new research funded by IOSH and conducted by researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University.

It found that the use of a multimedia digital tool can help to educate designers on typical design-related hazards and assist them in designing safety into construction projects more effectively. 

The study asserts that many professional design institutions have been gradually withdrawing the requirement for architects and civil engineers to spend prolonged periods of time on construction sites.

In turn, this has meant many designers do not have the construction knowledge needed to understand how their designs could impact occupational safety and health and often results in contractors taking on the responsibility for building designs.

However, the IOSH research shows up to half of construction accidents in the UK have a connection to the design of the building, highlighting the importance of improving designers’ knowledge of hazards and designing safety into developments from the outset of projects.

Professor Billy Hare, Deputy Director of the BEAM Research Centre at Glasgow Caledonian University, said: “A key factor for this research was the visual nature of the digital tool’s content, which seemed to work best with new graduates.

“But its real potential lies in being able to capture tacit knowledge from more experienced designers for the next generation to counter the age-old problem of organisational memory loss and prevent the same old mistakes that cause accidents and ill health from being repeated.

“We are now looking for partners to develop the prototype digital tool for full-scale industry use.”

As part of the study, a sample of 40 (20 novices and 20 experienced) designers from two typical industry groups of architects and civil engineers were recruited.

The designers were randomly assigned to multimedia user (experimental) and non-user (control) groups, who were permitted to use the internet for help. Participants were asked to review a set of computer-aided design (CAD) drawings in these sessions, identify hazards and make decisions about designing for OSH.

The experiment tested the multimedia digital tool against general internet searches and examined the designers’ ability to foresee OSH hazards in designs by measuring both the quantity of specific hazards identified and the quality of design outcomes.

Using the tool, the designers identified hazards a total of 599 times, with architects identifying over three times the number of hazards as those not using the tool. For civil engineers the figure was five times as large.

In both cases the scope of hazards identified was double that of the group not using the multimedia tool, suggesting it was an effective way of improving designers’ knowledge of hazards. This knowledge could help to create safer buildings by factoring a greater number of hazards into the planning and design of construction sites.

Mary Ogungbeje, Research Manager at IOSH, said: “Everyone would agree that it’s always best to prevent an accident from taking place in the first place, rather than reduce the injury.

“In today’s age of technology, being able to utilise digital training resources to help designers do just that is great. Such tools can make a real difference in upskilling professionals, irrespective of their level of experience. Architects and civil engineers can identify hazards and come up with better controls when developing and reviewing designs. Ultimately, this will reduce injuries and save lives.

“I hope that this research and the findings are welcomed by the design community in particular, including establishments with an educational or training interest, so that the learnings can contribute to improved industry practice.”

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay 

architecture

GUEST BLOG: Innovative architecture – The buildings of the future

As populations begin to live longer, and climate change threatens the existence of land mass on our planet, the need to establish where we will live in the future has become an important consideration.

By 2100, the world’s population could increase to 11.2 billion, and it is estimated that almost all population growth will occur within our cities. In 1930, only 30% of the world’s population lived in cities – compared to around 50% today; by 2050 66.7% of the world’s population will live in cities.

Now, architects are designing and constructing the buildings of the future, as a result of an increased demand for space within urban areas. As we move forward and replace older designs, new builds will help to accommodate our increasingly complex living-needs.

Together with Oasys, specialists in building design and pedestrian simulation software, we explore these cutting-edge structures and how they have become a reality…

Timbers that are taller

For architects that need to find an alternative to metals, timber structures are becoming taller and more structurally sound. This is because many are now praising its sustainability and quality, whilst realising how fast a structure can be built.

When it comes to building structures with timber, attitudes towards this practice are becoming increasingly progressive; this is because CLT (cross laminated timber) regulations are sparse. With its improved strength and stability due to more sophisticated engineering techniques – wooden skyscrapers are becoming a thing of the present, not the future.

Wenlock Cross in Hackney is perhaps the most impressive new structure that is being created with CLT. More commonly known as The Cube Building, standing at 6,750sq metres, the scheme is a hybrid mix of timber and steel. The building seamlessly blends into grass parks that surround the area, but also looks right at home amongst other urbanised buildings that make up London’s metropolitan landscape. As developments progress in the construction and implementation of timber structures, only time will tell how wooden buildings will influence the future of architecture.

Dynamic Tower Hotel: The Rotating Skyscraper

Designed by Israeli-Italian architect David Fisher, downtown Dubai is about to host the world’s first rotating skyscraper. The structure was originally proposed in 2008, but after being put on hold, the structure has now been set for completion by 2020.

Built in four dimensions, the structure will constantly change shape as it rotates, and in theory, the apartment block should never look the same twice. Though each apartment will be able to rotate 360 degrees independently, the speed will be adjustable, and the stationary core will contain the elevator with apartments off-shooting this core.

Leading the way when it comes to environment design, this new superstructure is an innovative one of a kind. The structure is proposed to power itself, as there will be wind turbines between each floor, negating the need for excessive power supplies from fossil fuels. An apartment will not come cheap, with prices set to be at around US $30 million. This is an exclusive project for those who want to pay the price to be at the forefront of innovation.

Garden buildings

In the East, skyscrapers are being designed that utilise the natural greenery that surrounds them, unlike older designs in the West. The East intends to build structures that encourage biodiversity, helping tropical spaces thrive within natural environments.

Nanjing Green Light House

Nanjing Green Light House stands in Nanjing, Jiangsu, China. Unlike a conventional light house, it is named in this way because through its round structure and sophisticated façade designs, the building is able to gain 200 LUX natural daylight for all working spaces – making it one of the first zero carbon buildings in mainland china.

China’s vast and natural foliage was the inspiration behind this building’s design; in this way, the natural landscape becomes as important as the building itself. Through natural ventilation techniques, exposed windows and moveable skylights, anyone can enjoy this working space that incorporates natural designs.

Oasia Hotel Downtown

Standing amongst limited green spaces, this building is the urban backdrop of downtown Singapore. This tropical skyscraper counteracts the Central Business District within the Tanjong Pagar area, and is meant to act as a prototype for how urbans tropics will function within man-made landscapes.

Functioning as additional ‘ground levels’, the building contains a number of sky gardens. Within the structure, this helps to provide public areas for recreation and social interaction within an inner-city environment. Each sky verandah is open sided, which provides natural breezes to pass through the building for good cross-ventilation without the need for air-conditioning units. The building is also considered a natural haven for wildlife, with an overall green plot ratio of 1,100% – reintroducing biodiversity into the city that was initially driven away through construction.

It’s clear that architecture of the future has three key priorities in mind: reducing carbon emissions through construction and functionality, encouraging biodiversity and utilising natural exteriors within the interior of a building. If these priorities are sustained, it’s clear that the future of architecture will not only transform lives, but benefit our natural environments as well.

Sources & Further Reading:

http://www.thenational.ae/uae/dubai-in-line-for-worlds-first-rotating-skyscraper

https://www.eboss.co.nz/detailed/pamela-bell/tall-timber-construction-new-updates

https://www.hawkinsbrown.com/news-and-events/press/tall-in-timber

https://www.wired.com/2015/04/20-buildings-show-future-architecture/

http://www.businessinsider.com/see-the-future-collection-2011-6?IR=T#rumored-foster-and-partners-new-apple-campus-on-june-7th-apple-founder-and-ceo-steve-jobs-presented-his-idea-for-a-new-apple-campus-at-the-cupertino-city-council-10

http://weburbanist.com/2009/05/27/unbuilt-buildings-12-awesome-future-architectural-designs/

http://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/these-6-new-buildings-are-the-future-of-sustainable-architecture

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150901-is-the-world-running-out-of-space