Why do we feel confident taking lifts to the tops of tall buildings or driving through kilometres-long tunnels? Because structural engineers have made it safe for us to do so. These highly skilled professionals take architectural designs and ambitions and make them structurally possible. As the Institution of Structural Engineers explains, they “design the strength and stability of our buildings and bridges.” Here’s a look at three extraordinary projects made possible by incredible architectural vision and structural engineering solutions.
First on our list is the shimmering Burj Khalifa in Dubai. At a staggering height of over 828 m, it holds the records for tallest building and tallest free-standing structure in the world. And with more than 160 storeys and the world’s highest outdoor observation deck (555 m), taking in the views from this incredible building is not for the faint-hearted.
So what went into the construction of this multiple award-winning structure? According to the building’s website, more than 380 engineers and on-site technicians were involved in the project. Construction took 22 million man-hours and used 330 000 m3 of concrete and 39 000 tonnes of steel rebar. And given the Burj Khalifa’s dizzying height, over 40 wind tunnel tests were conducted to determine the effects of wind on the tower.
Feel like having a swim in a 35-metre-high pool suspended between two buildings? Thanks to the recent opening of the Sky Pool in London, now you can. Equal parts amazing and terrifying, this see-through pool connects the rooftops of the Legacy Buildings in the Embassy Gardens development. Residents and their visitors can enjoy spectacular views while experiencing the sensation of swimming ‘in the sky’.
While the pool itself is 25 m long, the section spanning the two buildings is 15 m in length. How did the designers and engineers achieve this feat? They used a transparent acrylic frame, weighing 50 tonnes, that was manufactured in the US and transported to the UK. And they created innovative solutions to deal with the weight of the water, the effect of wind, and the normal movement of the buildings.
Singapore’s residential development, The Interlace, was named World Building of the Year in 2015 – no surprise to anyone familiar with its striking configuration. Often described as Jenga or Lego-like in design, The Interlace consists of 31 six-storey apartment blocks that are “stacked in a hexagonal arrangement to form eight large-scale courtyards.” The developers describe the blocks, which interlock, as resembling a vertical village, “with cascading sky gardens and both private and public roof terraces.”
What enables these ‘super blocks’ to be stacked on top of each other and interlaced? According to edgeprop.sg, each of the blocks is supported by weight-bearing transfer decks, constructed from high performance grade concrete “capable of withstanding the weight of 10 Airbus A380 jetliners.”
If you’re planning on building a marvelous structure, and you need a partner who takes in every detail in order to achieve your vision, meticulously and with the highest safety in mind, look no further than Lithon. Our accomplished team of structural engineers and technicians hold a successful track record for conceptualising, designing, detailing and analysing innovative steel and concrete structures. Get in touch with a member of our team today.
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