Sunday, October 08, 2006

Take Me Higher

This is an interesting website.

It's all about the Burj Dubai, which is currently being built just off the Sheik Zayed Road. It will be over 800m tall (half a mile!) and will have 162 floors (maybe more), and will be the tallest building in the world (by a long chalk) when finished in 2 or 3 years' time. Taipei 101, the current highest, at less than 600m high, will be a tiddler in comparison.

I've seen it many times - I pass it on my way to work every day. It's already the bigget building in Dubai, currently standing at 74 floors. They are building it at a rate of a floor a week, which means they should be done in about another 88 weeks. Then there's just(!) the outer cladding and the internal works to do. The thing is, it doesn't really look that big from a distance, but when you get up close, you appreciate what a massive beast it is - and will be. According to the website linked, it's not even close to half-way completed in height terms. I managed to get close last Thursday - eventually - because I had to go and see a man about another tall building (the one in Doha that I'm working on), and he just happens to work in a site office that is situated at the foot of the Burj.

The other staggering thing about it is the development going on all around it. It's like a town in itself, with other towers and malls and parks and Lord only knows what else. The very plush sales area (no small development in its own right) to one side was easy to find, but I managed to get lost trying to find the site office right next to the tower, which sounds ridiculous considering the size of it, but the actual development has one small site entrance which isn't that easy to find if you're a relative Dubai newbie like me. But I think what I'm trying to say is...IT'S HUGE!

But then, you come across this in Wikipedia, which is a list of the tallest buildigs structures in the world. If you look at section 5, you will see some of the proposed new structures that are in the pipeline, and you realise that the Burj Dubai is suddenly looking like a model of Canary Wharf in comparison to what is being planned. They are talking about building one in Kuwait that will be 1,000m high, but that is still dwarfed by the proposed Murjan Tower in Bahrain, which will be 1,022m high, and will have 200 floors. Truly mind-boggling.

Not only do you wonder how they can possibly build something so high (and take your hats off to the Engineers), you wonder about the logistics surrounding such a structure. What would happen to people on the 200th floor if a fire broke out on the 10th? The stairs would take about 2 hours to descend. Or are they planning to provide parachutes or death slides attached to other buildings? Madness. You won't get my up one of them, that's fo sho. I got to the first floor of the Eiffel Tower and wanted to go back down. I don't feel safe unless there is land all around and level with me.

It seems this part of the world has become obsessed with building the biggest of everything now. They've made a heap of money from oil, and want to spend it by playing with life-size mecanno sets, trying to outdo their neighbours. Where will it end?

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