15 July 2007

Tallest Tower in the Smallest Country

Well, not exactly.

Bahrain isn't really the smallest country in the world. But the way the reports are going, we just might have the tallest tower (or almost) in the world right here.

Yup; you heard right. Seems the new fad has turned to which country has the tallest tower. Dubai started it in the region by building the Burj Dubai, which some estimate will reach somewhere between 800 and 900m. Also in Dubai, another tower is being planned; Called The-Burj, which should hit something a little past a kilometer. Kuwait is also planning its own tower, at 1,001m, Mubarak Al-Kabeer, and Bahrain will also have one, not yet named but blueprints state it will reach 1,022.

So yes, we just might have the tallest tower in the world here (nose twitches)

Excuse me if I don't like the sound of that too much. First of all, listen to the tone; Dubai will have two, Kuwait will have one, Bahrain will have one etc... You know that Qatar will definately join in the "whose got the bigger one" game, and then Saudi, not to be outdone will come up with a 10km high tower or so.

Guys, calm the hell down. This is NOT a game; but obviously some people seem to think it is. It's always been in the gulf countries' blood; they love to show off how much money they have, how developed they are, etc. But don't do it this way. It's so obvious something is going to go terribly wrong here.

Just because you have the money to build it, doesn't mean you can support it. Heck, Al Moayyed Tower in Bahrain was built as the tallest tower in the country a few years ago and it didn't have enough car parks; that caused a total mess. Do you think we have the expertise or the facilities to combat a fire or a disaster should it happen?

Sitting in the 12th floor of NBB tower, I could hear creaking, and the windows shivering as the wind hit them. That didn't sound safe at all, and pretty scary actually. I was also told that NBB tower wasn't exactly the best engineering feat in the world. Hmm...

Warsaw Radio Mast was completed in 1974 as the worlds tallest building at 646 meters. It collapsed in 1991. Yes. Things like this DO happen. But its like kids playing with dynamite here; they don't realize how big a deal this is.

These new towers being built now are just status symbols; trying to show off to each other, or stand out to the world. My personal thought is, when we finally build our own Bahrain tower, Bahrain is going to sink. Or maybe that's just my personal wish, but whatever.

Another thing; when I was a kid my mom used to tell me stories about the signs of judgement day, and how we could tell when it was approaching. Now I look at a few things around me a little closer, and it starts to get freaky.

Example; almost 20 years ago, my mother told me about people talking to their hand to other people on the other side of the world, as if they were infront of you. I had no idea what that meant back then, but now I see the 3G telephones with cameras and you can talk to "your hand" and speak to someone on the other side of the world. She talked of so many different signs, that now I see start to pop up here and there.

But one of the signs (probably the scariest one since I see it now and i'm sure no one could have predicted it 20 years ago, let alone hundereds of years ago when these prophecies were made) is "The Shepherds of Arabia will compete in the construction of tall buildings"

This sounded ridiculous back then. But now, the Middle-East, once a desert full of shepherds, are not only competing in building tall buildings. But the TALLEST.

Freaky stuff.

One kilometre high and counting

Skyscrapers are back, with a vengeance. Stephen Cauchi reports on the race to construct the world's tallest building.

EVEN now, only half-finished, it looks staggering. Just last Wednesday, it became the second tallest skyscraper ever built, surpassing Taiwan's 509-metre Taipei 101. It will overtake Sears Tower in Chicago, CN Tower in Toronto and television masts in North Dakota and Warsaw to be the tallest structure ever built by mankind.

Burj Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, will usher in a new era of skyscrapers. Although its final height is being kept a secret, it's conservatively estimated it will reach 818 metres. Some tip it will be 940.

Burj Dubai will break records for height in a way not seen since the Eiffel Tower, which on completion in 1889 was nearly twice as high as the next tallest structure, the Washington Monument. It will be hundreds of metres taller than the Warsaw Radio Mast, which at 646 metres held the record as the world's tallest structure until its collapse in 1991.

But Burj Dubai may not hold the record for long. Another Dubai skyscraper, Al Burj, is slated to begin this year with a rumoured height of 1.2 kilometres. More tentatively, two other kilometre-tall towers are planned in the region: the 1001-metre Mubarak al-Kabeer in Kuwait and a 1022-metre tower in Manama, Bahrain.

These modern-day Towers of Babel — an apt comparison given their Middle East location and multicultural construction crews — are driven by symbolism rather than necessity, according to the managing director of Australian construction company Grocon, Daniel Grollo. "They like to build tall as a sign of the prosperity of the country — they have the money to push the boundaries."

Grocon, which was to have built the now-abandoned 560-metre Grollo Tower in Melbourne, has been a consultant on the Al Burj tower and may yet be involved in its construction.

The 818-metre Burj Dubai is impressive enough. Will the 1.2-kilometre Al Burj become reality? "My experience after having travelled to the Middle East over the last six to seven years has been that when they put their mind to something and say they're going to do it, they do it," said Mr Grollo, who said Al Burj had yet to receive planning approval. "Dubai is a very can-do city."

Indeed. The city's recent projects include several man-made archipelagos harbouring ultra-luxurious hotels; the biggest shopping mall in the world; the longest fully automated rail system in the world; massive theme parks and a colossal airport. Impressive for a town of only 1.5 million. And now, restoring a title to the region once held for millennia by the Great Pyramid of Giza, the world's tallest building.

Burj Dubai's 160 floors will be filled by hotel rooms, private apartments, and corporate offices, and serviced by 65 km/h lifts, the world's fastest. They'll need to be. Lifts, according to skyscraper architect Henry Feiner of Harry Seidler and Associates, are one of the major constraints on skyscrapers. "If you try to put in enough lifts to service 150-200 floors, you'll end up with no floor space on every floor. It's all taken up by lift shafts," he says. The solution — although time-consuming for those on the upper floors — is to design the building as one skyscraper stacked on another.

"It becomes a series of 50-storey buildings stacked on top of each other where you have express shuttle lifts taking you to sky lobbies — a platform at the 50-storey level — and then you start all over again."

But, says Feiner, there is no technological reason why skyscrapers could not go to two kilometres or even higher.

Kim Dovey, Professor of Architecture at Melbourne University, said high-rise buildings were economical, but only to a point. "The economies of scale go up dramatically in buildings up to about 10 storeys, and they continue to go up until about 40, and then they turn the other way — they become very inefficient buildings.

"After about 40 it becomes faintly ridiculous." That's because, Professor Dovey said, more and more of the building was taken up by lift shafts and servicing tunnels needed to transport people, utilities and goods to ever-greater heights.

But practicality is not the point. "It's an attempt by Dubai to put itself on the world stage."

He admits he finds such buildings inspiring "from a distance and inside looking out" but otherwise is not a fan.

"I think they're kind of stupid. The little kid that really wants to be noticed — trying too hard."


flymenian said...

The picture is really scary, I don't know why but it scares me for some reason.

June said...

It sounds like a ridiculous umm... how shall I put this delicately? Contest to sort of see whose is biggest, if you know what I mean? Typically male idea.

LuLu said...

I'm frightened!

We will become the country of spikes..

SILVER said...

These skyscrapers can not be justified economically, so its all waste. Our situation is different from the rest of the gulf, we have serious problems, we can’t afford more waste.
We better take out our heads from our butts!!

Ammar456 said...

I think the rest of the world looks at us like; "What a bunch of spoiled brats". Because seriously, thats what it feels like!

God gave this region oil and they decide, hey, instead of long term prosperity and building roads, better transportation systems, infrastructure which is more than a necessity at the moment, they decide to build towers to show that they are all rich and prosperous and all that other crap. What a load of bull! How about you work on prospering your societies because the way I see it, were on the verge of a very big bubble bursting and leaving us with a huge ghost town!

Flymenian, LuLu; yes, its definately freaky.

June; Yes, definately amale phenomenon! If women ruled we would have more shopping malls instead.

Blayde said...

I wholeheartedly agree on the futility on height. It's ergonomics that should be the case, With all the reclamation going on, why don't they make a building that stands out for it's design, like the Guggenheim. I recall seeing in Paris, there was a huge building that was shaped like 4 books, half open pointed inwards. THAT is something to notice. I look a high towers now with boredom, if they did it years ago, fine, who cares now,it's just more office space in one building, but you have the exponential cost of going that many floors up. Neither is it economic, and neither do they need it,Dubai is big enough so they can design airport cities, they can make better buildings.

Farhan said...

I'm sure with the same amount
of funds, Bahrain can build more
parks, better health and education facilities, and reclaim land for
more housing.

Martin said...

Dubai is the city of the future. I also was impressed with Dubai's progress and magnificent buildings and architecture. These Burj Dubai,World and Palm Islands, Dubailand, and other projects like the underwater hotel etc. are wonderful. I am really fascinating of beauty of Dubai property. I like them very much.
And Burj Dubai is a really something fascinating, unique and super ordinary. It is a symbol of future and visit card of Dubai.