The primitive purpose of constructing buildings was to provide shelter for people. However, as the times have evolved, buildings soon became a symbol of power and wealth. The larger and taller the buildings, the more the power! This article discusses and reviews the video “Tall Buildings and Constructions in the World” by Free Documentary on YouTube. Free Documentary is a YouTube channel aiming to bring forward exceptional documentaries on various subjects such as wildlife, nature, history, people, buildings and many more.

This documentary shares the journey of exploration of the physicist Richard about some of the world’s most fascinating tallest buildings and constructions. As a physicist, the scientific and technological base for such structures instils curiosity in him after which he starts his research expedition by visiting some of the tallest buildings and conversing with scientists & engineers. Through his experience, the video tries to explain theories of Chemistry, Physics & math and technological advancements in these fields that have led to the possibility to erect such tall structures.  

It covers a range of projects starting from the medieval period to the modern-day buildings. While the way in which certain buildings were built is still a mystery, the documentary uncovers several building materials, techniques and innovation which has made it possible. One of the common materials used for the construction of tall buildings during the Middle Ages was stone due to its sturdy nature as it offered adequate protection against enemy bombardment and pounding. It could support heavy superstructures and, in many cases, eliminate the need for a filling material because the weight of the stone was more than enough to provide structural stability. Additionally, its ability to withstand extreme and harsh weather conditions adds to its list of benefits. Yet, this imposed problems when the height of the building was to be extended after a certain limit because the superstructure had to be thicker with an increase in height. Gradually, during the industrial revolution, steel as a building material made its debut and was used extensively in building activities. Its durability and light weightedness resulted in the birth of skyscraper buildings. Today, the tallest building in the world – the Burj Khalifa, stands strong with a height of 828 meters. Soon, it is expected that Jeddah city in Saudi Arabia will be set to witness the 1-kilometre (1000 meters) tall tower, breaking the record of the former.

Youtube for Architect: Tallest Buildings and Constructions in the World by Free Documentary - Sheet1
World’s Tallest structure- Burj Khalifa_ ©archute.com
Youtube for Architect: Tallest Buildings and Constructions in the World by Free Documentary - Sheet
Proposed Jeddah Tower_©extravaganzi.com

The most important aspect of today’s possibility to experience such emblematic structures is the discovery of the elevator without which it would have been impossible to imagine buildings like these. Having a symbiotic relationship with each other, new advancements in one field, has led to developments in the other. Ever since it was introduced, elevators have run pages of technological advancements, allowing them to cover greater vertical travel distances, producing taller structures. The upgradation of electric elevators in 1903 resulted in the feasibility of constructing buildings beyond 100 meters. Today, technology has given room for further improvements such as bringing the concept of high-speed elevators into the market resulting in structures like Burj Khalifa. Consequently, they have also played a significant role in transforming cities by having an impact on the built forms. By changing the outlook of the spread of the developments from being horizontal to vertical, they have played a large part in it. In doing so, they have reshaped the modern cities by concentrating large masses of people on a smaller footprint of the area. Being a crucial innovation, the video features some facts about its discovery, functioning and evolution.

High-speed elevator at Burj Khalifa_©flickr.com

Nevertheless, the tall buildings come with their own set of complications. One of the issues that they face is the wind load, which oscillates the building, ending up being the reason for its collapse. The effects of these lateral forces are particularly important for high-rise buildings as the wind speed increases with an increase in altitude, free of the earth’s frictional influence. Hence, it is of primary importance that these structures are designed efficiently to take such pressures. The documentary also discusses some of the techniques adopted worldwide in designing tall structures to withstand these loads right from the medieval ages to what is being followed now in the recent developments. It also brings forward the key complications faced during the construction when doing so and how it was overcome.

The video films some of the successful tall constructions from almost every continent in the world while discussing these aspects in every case. Ever since people have begun to build such giant symbolic monuments, they have successfully found their ways of arriving at solutions for all the complications encountered. The construction industry has thus evolved significantly over the decades and will continue to do so. As rightly mentioned in the documentary, the height of the buildings in today’s scenario may not be limited due to the shortcomings in scientific and technological advancements but due to financial constraints only. 

References: 

  1. Havlidis, D., 2015. Medieval Building Materials. [online] Lost Kingdom Fantasy Writing, Roleplaying and Worldbuilding Resources. Available at: <https://www.lostkingdom.net/medieval-architecture-building-materials/#:~:text=Stone%20was%20used%20during%20the%20medieval%20times%20for,take%20a%20significant%20pounding%20was%20also%20quite%20important.> [Accessed 8 August 2022].
  2. Behnke, M., 2017. Sky High: Innovative Elevator Technologies Enable More Efficient Tall Buildings. [online] Freedoniagroup.com. Available at: <https://www.freedoniagroup.com/Content/Blog/2017/08/07/Sky-High-Innovative-Elevator-Technologies-Enable-More-Efficient-Tall-Buildings> [Accessed 8 August 2022].
  3. Al-Kodmany, K., 2015. Tall Buildings and Elevators: A Review of Recent Technological Advances. Buildings, 5(3), pp.1070-1104.
Author

An architecture student who believes that any space can be turned into a lively environment only when it caters to its user’s needs and is extremely passionate about walking the cities on its journey in becoming sustainable and inclusive for its people.

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