Following the construction of the Burj Khalifa 830 m skyscraper in Dubai in 2009, during which the need to find quicker ways to construct tall buildings was identified, global engineering, management and specialist technical services company Aurecon produced a holistic system to enable the construction of a similar building in half the time.
During the Burj Khalifa building construction period, Aurecon identified this need as it noticed that clients and developers did not always have the time to wait for a project to be completed.
“Being able to cut the construction time of a building as tall as the Burj Khalifa in half – or [even] by a third – is a significant achievement,” says Aurecon buildings director for the Middle East and North Africa Dr Andy Davids, who was the chief engineer on the Burj Khalifa project.
“Since then, I have been involved in the design of many megastructures, constructed within mere months,” Davids notes.
Aurecon has found that modular systems – a design approach that subdivides a system into smaller parts called modules that can be independently created and then used in different systems – assist in the construction of taller buildings at a faster pace.
“If you look at existing 400-m- and 500-m-tall buildings, you will see that each one is individually handcrafted and they are each unique and beautiful in their own way. A good observation is that this could be the reason why they take so long to build; however, this is not necessarily true,” says Davids.
He notes that the 30-storey T30 Hotel, in China, was prefabricated and erected in only 15 days.
“This hotel broke national construction management company Broad Group Construction Company’s own past record of building a 15-storey building in just one week.
“This was all possible because modular, prefabricated solutions were used,” Davids says, stating that Aurecon is starting to extrapo- late these principles to expedite the construction of even taller buildings.
“[However,] the goal isn’t to break records, but to deliver a high- performing tall building within a shorter amount of time,” explains Davids.
He notes that the mass production of modules that can be customised according to the needs of each individual client is now a popular means of construction.
Aurecon is able to offer mass customisation to countries, cities and developers who need tall buildings within a shorter timeframe. The company has focused on a modular solution that can be replicated to build additional tall buildings at a quicker speed; however, this does not mean that every building is going to look the same or perform in the same way.
“Design professionals, specifically architects, feel they are less constrained by technology than in the past – and rightfully so. As consulting engineers, it’s our job to use technical skills so that an architect or a client’s vision can be realised,” says Davids.