Skyscrapers are believed to be one of the grandest innovations that have become the most prominent symbols of a smart city. If you see a skyscraper in a city, it’s a smart city.
But do we need skyscrapers? Experts ask, do they make any economic sense? There is a rich and rather must-see history associated with skyscrapers. In 1931, The Empire State Building in New York looked insane to many. But, in 2010, it dropped to second-tier when Burj Khalifa made a new record for the world’s tallest building.
Reportedly, Industry experts felt that the developer’s egos drove its height instead of influential economics. However, opposite to this popular perception, the economic variable is leading to the construction of increasingly taller buildings. It comes from a recent review of skyscraper’s economics.
If we dive into the driving factors, the matter gets complicated with many angles involved. But the urban residents and businesses are willing to pay to stay in tall buildings. Because it makes life more convenient.
On the other hand, developers are eager to build high rises to meet this demand. Keeping it simple, smart cities are moving towards what we need and want – together. It is most likely that you will see skyscraper-filled smart cities in the future. And so, we explore some innovations that are becoming powerful elements of modern skyscrapers.
Life cables made of steel are heavy and can travel only up to 500 m of vertical run. To get to the top floor of 1 km high Jeddah Tower, you will need a minimum of two such lifts. But both the elevators need to travel at slower speeds. This will prevent passengers from experiencing nausea of the 10% reduction in air pressure.
With the idea to make express elevators a reality beyond 500 m, Kone and ThyssenKrupp have developed two unique technologies. Kone, a Finnish firm, has developed a cutting-edge elevator lift rope that will replace conventional steel cables.
The new technology named ‘UltraRope’ is a carbon fibre composite-based elevator rope. It has a substantially higher strength to weight ratio when compared to steel. With the help of UltraRope, architects can safely design elevator shafts that are as tall as the 1km Jeddah Tower.
UltraRope is lighter in weight, which also means that it will consume less energy. With this, the innovative lift cable also reduced the load on every elevator ride.
More so, it requires no lubrication throughout its lifetime and has twice the operating lifetime than a steel rope. It also cuts the elevator swing during strong winds. Hence, UltraRope may prove to be effective in skyscrapers higher than 500 m.
The Kone UltraRope will be utilised in a 660-meter tall elevator shaft in the Jeddah Tower. The construction is underway in Saudi Arabia. ThyssenKrupp, a German firm, has created cable-free elevator technology that can traverse in vertical as well as horizontal directions.
One of the things that have excited human beings since ancient times is height. The height allowed us to see a wide panorama, letting us know who is approaching – a group of enemies or wild creatures. Today, in the 21st century, South Korea’s Tower Infinity is introducing technology that makes the tower invisible. Something ancient man would call camouflage against an approaching threat.
Tower Infinity will be made of 100% transparent glass walls that unobtrusively reflect the sky and allow lots of natural light in. In 2004, GDS Architects won the competition to design the tower, and almost a decade later they were permitted to begin construction. As per reports, the tower will be completed by 2023.
GDS Architects will be using a sheath of LED lights that will produce the illusion of invisibility. The invisibility will be accomplished by installing a high-tech LED facade system. It will integrate a series of cameras that send real-time images onto the building’s reflective surface. This is as per CNN reports.
The firm has proposed a sort of skyscraper that blends into the sky and seems to disappear with the help of optical illusions and lighting. As per GDS Architects, the tower doesn’t symbolise prominence as another world’s ‘tallest and best’ skyscraper. Rather, it sets itself apart by celebrating the global community. The tower delicately demonstrates Korea’s emerging position in the world “by establishing its most powerful presence through diminishing its existence.”
Flying Car Skyport
Kodsi’s company in Miami, US constructed a 60-story skyscraper that features the world’s first flying car Skyport. The Paramount is the country’s second-largest real estate development that is dubbed as “The City of The Future.” The $600-million project has a SkyDeck pool that can transform itself into a takeoff and landing pad for skyscrapers.
Residents will be able to access the SkyDeck using private glass-enclosed elevators. These elevators lead directly from their condos to the top of the building. The structure will be able to facilitate the weight of a vertical takeoff landing (VTOL). The deck is 500 square feet and wide enough to act as a landing pad. Hence, when flying cars here, people can actually land on the roof rather than entering and exiting through the ground floor.
Currently, the world doesn’t have flying cars. But as per the spokesperson of the company, “if you build it, they will come.” Miami is one of the most competitive real estate markets in the world, where developers are continually competing to excel. In the case of Paramount, it has amenities for flying cars.
VTOL vehicles are still in the testing phase. But someday will become a new normal. German startup, Lilium is already developing a two-seater, all-electric, jet-powered VTOL. Many others, including Airbus, Bell, Boeing and Uber are investing billions into the research and development of VTOL’s. As per reports, the world will have the first flying cars available to the public by 2021 or 2022.
EHang, an Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV) technology company in China, has launched an intelligent flying firefighting solution. It is claimed to be the world’s first large-payload aerial firefighter.
Called the EHang 216F, it is specially designed for skyscraper firefighting. The AAV demonstrated its capability to extinguish a high-rise fire at the global launch event in the city of Yunfu, China.
EHang 216F has the ability to fly at a maximum height of 600 m. It can carry up to 150 litres of firefighting foams and six fire extinguisher bombs in a single trip. The vehicle uses a visible light zoom camera to identify the fire location rapidly. It hovers at the exact position. Then it uses a laser aiming device to fire a window breaker and fire extinguishing bombs and firefighting foam. More than one 216Fs can deploy at the incident to quickly extinguish the fire.
Going further, 216Fs will be deployed in urban fire stations to assist in firefighting within a 5km radius. With EHang’s autopilot and centralised management technologies, 216Fs can remotely dispatch for a first response before the firefighter arrives.
Tackling high rise fires is currently challenging. Thus, AAV such as 216F can be useful in solving severe fires in skyscrapers. The company aims at exploring and developing more aerial solutions that can empower smart cities.
As per an expert architect, you can keep increasing the height of high rise buildings provided the base keeps getting wider. But can humans reach such heights without suffering extreme discomfort? It is still hard to find out. One is definite that humans will continue investing in resources to test such horizons.