Our architecture and designs have taken a huge leap in complexity, thanks to the surge of digital technology and its advancements. Not only have designs pushed the boundaries of traditional building, but the technology within the structures has developed some fantastic internal capabilities for its visitors and guests. Alongside structural analysis software experts Oasys, we’re doing some virtual globe-trotting to find the most advanced buildings in the world.
Staying cool: Burj Khalifa
Known as both the Burj Khalifa and the Burj Dubai, this towering structure is the world’s tallest at a whopping 2,722ft. Starting construction in 2004 and finalising the project in 2008, many decisions had to be made to ensure that this neo-futurism structure was able to serve its purpose, acknowledging that it would be a free-standing building and understanding the hot climate it would be situated in.
An underground network supplies Dubai with fresh water from desalination plants that retreive water from the sea. When the water hits the Burj, it is distributed to every corner of every floor on every level. However, with 163 floors, this can become a complicated process, which shows us just how special the Burj Khalifa actually is in terms of design.
The pressure required to send water through the building via one pump was deemed too dangerous by the structure’s four main architects. To counter this problem, they came up with a plan to help the water flow up the building in different stages.
The Burj Khalifa has 200,000-gallon tanks situated up and down its structure, which are fed from a reservoir station on the 40th floor, which in turn, is fed from the basement. As the water reaches the top, the water then travels back down under its own weight — it is said that 946,000 litres of water are supplied per day which also helps the building stay cool in the hot climate.
As a city in the desert, buildings in Dubai need to be able to cool themselves. Therefore, another water supply — an ice-chilled water system which is the first of its kind to be used in the Middle East — has also been implemented to enable substantial energy savings.
Designed to stand against the elements: Taipei 101
A platinum certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the Taipei 101 was the world’s tallest until 2008 when the Burj Khalifa usurped it. Up until 2016, the structure had the fastest elevator on the planet, which could travel from the 5th to 89th floor in 37 seconds!
From the traditional Fort Provintia to the super-futuristic Tuntex Sky Tower, Taiwan has a huge catalogue of building designs. But what makes it so spectacular? Starting construction in 1999 and ending in 2004, the Taipei has 101 floors (if the name had not given it away) and is 1,666 ft in height — but the environmental factors that took over its design has changed the way we build for good.
No stranger to typhoons and earthquakes, buildings in Taiwan need to be designed with natural disasters in mind. When it comes to Taipei 101, the structure can withstand high winds of 134 mph, which is due to the model prioritising resistance through the use of curtain walls, protected glass and high-performance steel. The walls can provide heat and ultraviolet protection by blocking external heat by 50%.
The structure’s support mainly comes from 36 steel columns, eight of which are mega columns build from 10,000 pounds of concrete per inch. Within Taipei 101, there are outrigger trusses every eight floors which connect to the columns within the exterior to ensure secure resistance from probable natural disasters in and around Taiwan.
An upgrade of sustainability: Apple Park, Campus 2
One of the biggest companies in the world, Apple relocated into an upgraded building. Worth a staggering $234.7bn, the company, which is now one of the biggest on the planet, was able to invest a further $5bn into a new building and move its tremendous workforce into a circular futuristic structure. The new office-space, which opened in April 2017 midway through construction, is made up of 175 acres — and is even bigger than The Pentagon.
The building is one of the most efficient buildings in the world, as its entire roof is made of solar panels. The solar panels are capable of generating 17 megawatts of power (75% during peak daytime) and the company has aims to make the complex entirely powered by renewable energy in the future. Another four megawatts are powered through the use of biofuel and natural gas within the complex, using Bloom Energy Servers which are popular within the Californian region, with Google, Yahoo and Wal-Mart using them, too.
The structure’s design process highlighted the need for natural heating, ventilation, and air control. To achieve this, air is allowed to flow freely between the inside and outside of the building, which can help assist for nine months of the entire year — highlighting the importance of such features in the DNA of design.
As technology continues to expand and grow, the designs and capabilities of the world’s structures will also become more incredible. For example, London is set to have 13 new skyscrapers by 2026 — we know that these will be designed to uphold the ethical requirements for a modern-day structure.