‘We need to pump concrete half a MILE into the sky’: Engineers puzzled by how to build the world’s next tallest skyscraper
- The Kingdom Tower will measure 3,280ft (1km) tall if it is built in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to provide views of the Red Sea
- Foundations will be 200metres deep and able to withstand salt of Red Sea
- Engineers are currently testing materials, such as concrete and steel, out of which the massive skyscraper could be constructed
- Once of the biggest challenges is the pouring of concrete thousands of feet off the ground – and a thin pressurised tube could be the answer
A futuristic skyscraper measuring more than 3000ft tall is planned to be built in Saudi Arabia.
But for engineers, it’s a tall order and they are trying to work out how to construct the massive tower by testing methods of pumping wet concrete, which would need to travel half a mile skywards.
The Kingdom Tower, which is intended to be erected in Jeddah, is planned to be 3,280ft (1km) tall but there are huge challenges to be overcome in its construction, including how to build tall lifts and reduce its overall weight.
A tall order: The Kingdom tower, which is intended to be erected in Jeddah, is planned to be 3,280ft (1,000metres) tall. An artist’s impression of what the finished development could look lie is pictured
THE KINGDOM TOWER: CHALLENGES AND FEATURES
The shape of the tower is designed to reduce ‘wind load’ which increases with height. Its tapering wings are an aerodynamic shape to reduce structural loading due to wind.
It is a similar shape to the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai, which also has quite a stiff shape.
The differing shapes at different levels mean wind loads will go around the building.
One of the challenges is to build the tower so that it is not too rigid, but not too flexible so that it is unstable or people feel nauseous.
Another challenge for super tall buildings is the use of lifts and fire escapes, which in effect mean expensive unusable space.
The challenge of pumping concrete so high up a single, pressurised pipe is a huge engineering undertaking.
The developers of the massive tower have confirmed that a company named Advances Construction Technology Services (ACTS) has begun investigations on the materials needed to build the monster skyscraper.
They are said to be around half a million cubic metres of concrete and approximately 80,000 tonnes of steel, The Saudi Gazette reported.
The skyscraper is intended to be the centrepiece of the Kingdom City development beside the Red Sea and have 200 floors, 160 of which would be habitable.
It is estimated to cost $1.23bn and would be 568ft (173metres) taller than Dubai’s Burj Khalifa tower.
‘ACTS will also deploy special equipment to evaluate the rheological properties of concrete to ensure concrete will be pumpable to very high elevations,’ the article said.
Problem solving: Engineers will have to solve multiple problems to build the tower, from reducing the structure’s weight and making it sway the right amount, to piping concrete almost one kilometre into the sky . Artists’ impressions of the towering structure are pictured
The foundations of the tower will be 200ft deep and have to withstand salt water from the Red Sea, Gizmodo reported, meaning that testing the materials has to be the first item on the building agenda.
The company will looks at the strength of different high performance concretes, as well as which steel to use.
Once they have decided upon the exact materials to use, engineers will have to work out how to pour each floor on top of the last one and it is likely that teams of people will pump millions of tonnes of concrete though a thin, pressurised pipe so that it can be spread out by builders above.
Centre piece: The skyscraper is intended to be the centre piece of the Kingdom City development beside the Red Sea and will have 200 floors, 160 of which would be habitable. This is an image of what it might be like to look down from the structure
As the tube could be as narrow as six inches and gravity means that it is not easy to pump wet concrete skywards, this could be one of the most challenging pieces of the whole project.
However, a similar technique was used to build the Burj Khalifa skyscraper, which set the world record for the highest concrete pumping.
The developers of the massive tower have confirmed that a company called Advances Construction Technology Services (ACTS) has begun investigations on the materials needed to build the monster skyscraper. Two illustrations of what the tower might look like from above are pictured
THE WORLD’S CURRENT TALLEST SKYSCRAPERS
The world’s tallest man-made structure is Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, which is 2,722 ft (829.8metres) tall.
The building gained the official title of ‘Tallest Building in the World’ at its opening on January 4, 2010 and has 160 floors.
Other tall skyscrapers include Shangahai’s World Financial Centre, which is 1,599ft (487metres) tall and Taipei 101 at 1,474ft (449metres) tall – both of which have 101 floors.
Since the 1960s engineers have have mostly used tubular designs innovated by Bangladeshi-American structural engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan to build skyscrapers.
This engineering principle makes the buildings structurally more efficient and stronger and reduces the use of material to keep costs down while allowing the buildings to reach greater heights.
Engineers managed to deliver six million cubic feet of concrete to higher levels of the building through a single tube and this all had to be done at night so that temperatures were low enough for the concrete to set.
It is not absolutely certain that the Kingdom Tower will be built, but the tests could prove whether it would be possible to create it.
Experts have been discussing whether it is possible to build such a tall skyscraper for a few years, after the project was proposed in 2010.
Dr Sang Dae Kim, the director of the Council on Tall Buildings told Construction Weekly: ‘With Kingdom Tower we now have a design that reaches around one kilometre in height. Later on, someone will push for one mile, and then two kilometres.
‘At this point in time we can build a tower that is one kilometre, maybe two kilometres. Any higher than that and we will have to do a lot of homework.’
‘In terms of practicalities, we don’t need to build at two kilometres – but someone with a lot of money might still want to do it.’
It is not absolutely certain that the Kingdom tower will be built, but the tests could prove whether it would be possible to create it, in theory. An illustration of what the luxurious lobby might look like is pictured
The proposed tower is estimated to cost $1.23bn and would be 568ft (173metres) taller than Dubai’s Burj Khalifa tower, which is currently the world’s tallest building (pictured)