The Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai had its official opening ceremony on Monday although it was hardly a grand unveiling as you cant hide a 828 meter tall building behind a curtain. The Burj Khalifa (also known as the Burj Dubai) is the tallest man made structure ever built and has the world’s fastest elevators which travel at 40 mph. The building is so high that those visiting the top of it’s needle like tower are treated to the kind of views you would only otherwise see on a flight to Dubai.
One thing which always fascinates me about large buildings is the amount of effort required to maintain them. Very often large structures, in particular bridges, require constant cleaning so once those doing the work get to the end they start from the beginning again. Most skyscrapers require a lot of window cleaning as they tend to have floor to ceiling windows. The window cleaners who work on the Burj Dubai have to be fearless and fast as this video shows:
The building has 24,830 windows which total 120,000 square meters of glass. The cleaners use normal soapy water according to Dale Harding of Cox Gomyl
“It’s the same as an average shop front cleaner would use — there’s nothing complex about it at all,”
The top floors of the building require a more complex system than men dangling by ropes with a sponge in their hands. An Australian firm called Cox Gomyl were tasked with working out a way to keep the views from the top clear. They went through a series of ideas before designing a series of machines which emerge from the building a run on tracks along its outer edge. The 12 machines carry up to 36 windows cleaners who do their thing in the traditional manner.
The equipment required cost around $7.3 million and each machine weighs in at 13 tonnes. As well as the 12 moving platforms there are six smaller machines which clean the exterior of floors 21 and up. You can see these in action on Cox Comyl’s info page here.
To service the facades of the 828 m high structure, 3 permanent parapet mounted BMUs were installed at each of Levels 40, 73 and 109. These track-mounted and telescoping systems are operate on a horizontal track which has been installed on Burj’s exterior façade. The machines are very flexible in their operation and are able to luff, telescopic, hoist, slew and travel. The average outreach of these machines is 10 m, retracting to 5 m for the parking configuration.