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For Qatari residents: Do you prefer a summer or winter World Cup 2022?

Measuring Up

Written by  Author |   Tue, 13 May 2014 10:10

From buildings to skyscraper to star-scraper....The massive way of thinking is to ask how high can you go?... It's a challenge set by man since the existence of construction on earth. "Skyscrapers" and "High-rise buildings" were always relative to the living era. They have always described any structure protruding above the construction environment, soaring things with the glory and pride of exalting in them. This description was more than enough in raising the bar throughout these years;  the 10-story building (42m) "Home Insurance Building - Chicago - USA" back in 1885 was one of that epoch's skyscrapers; the One-Mile-Tower (1600m) intended to be build, will most probably be ours. 

The development of the QATAR west bay area is maybe one of the most innovative aspects of this challenge.  The city of Doha became the fourth in the world, and second in the Middle East, among the list of skyscrapers completed in 2011 according to an annual report released by the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH). News is also released about adding several more skyscrapers to the list in the coming years, including the 551m Doha Convention Centre and Tower, to be constructed in West Bay.

This type of construction comes with big challenges; the question "how tall can you go" hides many requirements starting with the concept and structural design, and reaching the execution but most importantly construction materials and concrete. Massive concrete was first studied with the rise of dams' construction accelerated after 1990. Early studies on massive concrete showed that the reaction between the cement and water was exothermic by nature giving excessive heat which cannot be easily dissipated in massive concrete sections. Significant tensile stresses and strains may result from the restrained volume change coupled with the differential temperature inside the elements. Uncontrolled temperature differential may initiate cracking due to thermal behavior leading to a loss of structural integrity and monolithic action, excessive seepage and shortening of the service life of the structure. High internal temperature (70ºC-80ºC) may cause Delayed Ettringite Formation inside the concrete pores which present an expansive and detrimental reaction.

"While it may look good from the outside, it can be degraded from the inside". Several concrete practices are currently developed to account for these two phenomena in order to ensure the required massive end product. Methods of analysis and monitoring going from the material selection, concrete mix design, placing methodology, and post-placing activities are now provided by few Concrete Consultancy Firms across the Middle East, specifically in Qatar.

Present construction is heading towards being Green and environmentally-friendly. Skyscrapers witnessed the first green construction aspects in QATAR providing a better and optimized space management. The area occupied by the construction has shrunk versus the population growth. This fact provided more space for infrastructure, roads, and most importantly green spaces. Several other studies are also in process to benefit from solar and wind exposure of the skyscrapers in QATAR in order to reduce energy consumption. Another aspect of the green building, related to the construction material, is now launched by the American Concrete Institute and progressively adopted in Qatari construction. Green construction materials must lead to minimum carbon footprint. Carbon footprint is calculated for each material including the source and supply. Even though still in its baby-steps, the assessment and selection of a greener construction material with low carbon footprint is now paving its way into the important phase of design and execution of skyscrapers. So before one says "jump" with the answer being "how high?" we first need to measure how green are our white collar intentions.

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WhyQatar Magazine is an environmentally conscious publication
October / 10 / 2014
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