When talking about skyscrapers, names like Burj Khalifa, Shanghai Tower, One World Trade Center, Petronas Tower, etc. immediately strike our mind. It makes us wonder how tall buildings can be. Is there a limit to how high a building can be built?
According to a leading architect, there is ‘theoretically’ no limit to how high a building can be. In a perfect world, humans can experiment with buildings that are taller than Mt. Everest. However, such extra tall buildings will run into numerous challenges and problems in practical terms. Some of these are described below.
More height, more base – The taller the building, the larger will be the area of its base. Assuming that we are constructing a Mt. Everest sized building, it will need base area of around 4,100 square kilometers. This is large enough to accommodate more than five New York sized cities. Getting this large area in a level plane will be a huge challenge with existing building techniques.
Funding – Significant investments will be required for building extra-large buildings. For example, the proposed 2.4-mile-tall X-Seed 4000 building will require funds of up to $1.4 trillion. This is more than the annual GDP of most countries on the planet. As such buildings will require several years to construct, their cost may continue to rise. Moreover, one also has to consider changing political and economic conditions. Due to these, financial institutions may be wary of funding such high-risk projects.
Environmental impact – Assuming someone manages to build a Mt. Everest sized building, it will create significant impact on the environment. A variety of flora and fauna could be lost forever. Such extra tall buildings may also interfere with wind and weather patterns, resulting in extreme weather events.
Revenue and maintenance cost – While extra tall buildings will surely attract visitors and tourists, their long-term revenue generation potential will be difficult to determine. One also has to consider the cost of maintaining such extra tall buildings. If desired revenues are not generated, it would be a big loss for investors.
Elevator technology – Existing skyscrapers have high-speed elevators that can climb several floors in seconds. However, even these will appear to be slow in the context of extra-tall buildings. Elevator technology will have to be upgraded significantly if extra tall buildings are to become a reality.
With existing resources, construction materials and technology, leading architects feel that buildings of around a mile high can be possible. Anything beyond that will require several new inventions and innovations. Moral of the story is the tallest building we can build with current resources will be a mile-high.