A Walk Beyond the Fantasy Horizon

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Modern architecture is truly amazing: all the bizarre shapes, ornate lines, and unique engineering solutions. From year to year, designers compete for the honorary title of the tallest building in the world. This race gave the world an incredible structure in the richest emirate of Dubai named “Burj Khalifa”. The author of the 828-meter skyscraper, an experienced American architect Adrian Smith, has made in the form of a giant stalagmite.

However, there is a parallel trend: to create buildings of incredible shapes and forms, not chasing records. We want to show you five of the most impressive skyscrapers in the world.

5. The construction of the Shanghai World Financial Center, 492 meters high and the seventh in the world, was completed in the summer of 2008.

The tower was built by the Japanese company Mori Building Corporation, and designed by David Malotte from the New York company Kohn Pedersen Fox.

A striking feature of the Chinese center is a huge trapezoidal hole at the top of the building, which is designed to reduce wind-resistance and turbulent flows from a neighboring building.

Thanks to this form, the author of the project managed to place an open observation deck with a stunning panorama of the city on the hundredth floor (472 m above the ground). It has been holding the title of the highest building on the planet for the last eight years.

4. The Taipei 101 skyscraper immediately gained fame as the main architectural attraction of modern Taiwan because of its size, location, and shape. Its height is 509 meters. Postmodernism wasn't chosen by chance as an architectural style because it allowed combining modern traditions and ancient Chinese architecture.

The task of the engineers was to design a high-rise structure of a not very rigid structure so that it could withstand strong winds, and at the same time, it should be strong enough to avoid lateral displacement during earthquakes.

The particular restrictions were imposed by the height of the structure. The unique engineering solutions were applied to protect the citizens. The key design feature was the 660-ton steel pendulum, which is an inertial vibration damper. The vibrational energy is damped by a system of springs.

The tower is covered with double glazing of a specific blue-green color. It protects people inside from the heat and ultraviolet radiation.

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3. In 2006, Reiser, together with Umemoto, designed the unique O-14 tower in Dubai. This futuristic structure is a 22 story commercial building erected on a two-story podium and is considered to be the most stable of the high-rise buildings of the Middle East and Africa.

A key feature of O-14 is external walls with round holes (there are more than 1000 of them in the project), made of concrete 400 mm thick.

The originality of the tower is that the special structure of the walls can minimize the energy consumption for air conditioning systems.

Also, there is a one-meter wide gap between the white facade and the main glass facade of the building. In the process of heating, there are directed airflows that serve as natural ventilation for this massive structure, thereby minimizing energy consumption.

2. Chicago skyscraper takes the second place in our rating: a 250-meter giant known as Aqua.

There are a hotel and various luxury apartments on the 81st floor of our next building. The author of the project, Jeanne Gang (Studio Gang Architects), wanted to emphasize the rectangular building primarily with the unusual shape and integration of nature. The facades of the skyscraper are decorated with real "lakes" where windows play the role of water. It looks as though an ice colossus suddenly appeared in the middle of a modern metropolis.

This skyscraper is notable for its "green roof": the park, which is one of the largest of the so-called hanging gardens in Chicago. In addition to green plantings, it has a swimming pool, jogging routes, a beach, and a decorative pond.

1. The undisputed winner of our rating is the new symbol of China: the Shanghai Tower. This gigantic building (height 632 meters, a total area of 380 thousand square meters) was designed by the architectural bureau of Art Gensler (Gensler).

The Shanghai Tower is built of nine cylinders mounted on top of each other. The internal volume forms the building, while the external facade creates a shell that rises upward, rotating 120 degrees, thus creating a curved appearance. The space between the two layers of the facade is created by nine atriums of celestial gardens.

The Guinness Book of Records has already recognized the skyscraper as a three-times champion thanks to an elevator designed by Mitsubishi Electric. Firstly, it is the fastest in the world, secondly, the highest in the building, and thirdly, the fastest double-deck elevator in the world. The record-holder ascends at a speed of 20.5 meters per second and makes it to the 119th floor in 55 seconds!

The article was also published in the construction magazine ProfBuild No. 1 (15) 2017.

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