Beneath every great structure is a foundation. Without these technical and solid bases buildings simply wouldn’t stand. As buildings get higher and more complicated, so does their engineered foundations. Here are some of the world’s most famous structures and a little behind what keeps them standing.
Starting at the top, well the bottom, the world’s tallest building. The BurjKhalifa towers over Dubai and is the tallest free standing structure in the world. There are 160 stories to the building, coming in at 2722ft. At the top of the BurjKhalifa is an observation deck, allowing visitors can enjoy the views of Dubai and beyond. Over 45,000m3 of concrete was used to construct the concrete and steel foundation. The pile foundation features 192 piles buried more than 50m deep.
The tower consists of residences, corporate suites, a hotel and a Michelin starred restaurant. Fun fact, the BurjKhalifa is twice the height of the Empire State Building but weighs only 40% more.
The Taj Mahal is part of possibly the greatest love story of all time. It is a marble mausoleum, commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal Emperor to house the tomb of his favourite wife. It was completed in 1653 and in today’s money would have cost approximately 52.8 billion rupees ($827 million)
The Taj Mahal should not still be standing. This is a fact. The foundation of the Taj Mahal is made of wood and is only structurally sound as long as the water from the Yamuna remains above a certain level. However, the levels are in rapid decline, dropping approximately 1.5 metres per year, this could spell devastation for one of the world’s most famous structure and one of the New7Wonders of the world.
The Washington Monument
Have you ever noticed that the Washington monument is a different shade at the bottom compared the middle and top? This isn’t a trick of the light it is actually because construction stopped and started. The first phase of building was stopped in 1854 after money ran out. The structure of the first 3rd was severely compromised, the shaft rested on a foundation measuring just 7 square meters, this caused the shaft to lean 4cms out of the vertical and start to crack.
To save the US from embarrassment of having a wonky half completed structure in their capital city, Col. Thomas Casey of the US Corps of Engineers took on the task of strengthening and completing the monument. They were successful in their task and the monument, dedicated to George Washington, still stands in Washington D.C. today.
The Petronas Towers
These were once the tallest building in the world and still remain the tallest twin towers. They are mainly office buildings but do contain an observation deck and sky bridge for visitors wishing to get a better view of Kuala Lumpur.
These towers are set on the deepest foundations in the world. 104 concrete piles, ranging from 60 to 114 metres deep, were put into the ground, then the concrete raft foundation, comprising 13,200 cubic metres of concrete was continuously poured through a period of 54 hours for each tower. The raft is 4.6 metres thick and weighs 32,500 tonnes.
As the cost of importing steel to Malaysia is so high, they opted to use a super high strength reinforced concrete frame to complete the structure, it is twice as effective as steel in reducing sway but is also twice as heavy as steel on the foundation.