Going Underground

Gavin Davids wonders if it's time we started looking down wards

Gavin Davids
Gavin Davids

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Gavin Davids wonders if it’s time we started looking downwards if we want to see how the future of the MEP industry could progress

I’d been sitting in front of my screen for well over an hour, wondering just how to start this month’s column all the while waging a losing battle against the distractions of Facebook and Twitter, when almost miraculously, into my email inbox popped a fascinating topic of discussion.

I’m sure by now, every engineer and architect on the planet must have heard about the Mexico City ‘earth-scraper’, a proposed feat of engineering and architecture so crazy, outlandish and over the top, it could have been announced in Dubai and no one would have batted an eyelid.

For the uninitiated, a short description: Last year, the architecture firm, BNKR Arquitecture released plans of an outlandish project that would serve to make a mark (literally) on Mexico City’s architectural landscape.

The capital of the Central American state is home to some of the strictest building codes in the world, and architects and designers have long struggled for a way to build new and exciting projects around the city’s central square, while also complying with its building code.

So what the clever folks at BNKR did was go under, rather than over. The firm plans to build a massive 300m deep ‘earth-scraper’ that will hold offices, shopping centres and residences.

In this way, they hope to get around the height and building restrictions in place, while creating an iconic landmark for Mexico under the city’s central square.

However, I do have to wonder if this ‘idea’ is nothing more than a fanciful publicity stunt for the firm, and if it has any basis in reality.

Ignoring the obvious questions about the movement of infrastructure and the nightmares it would induce in contractors, I put my MEP hat on and wondered just how difficult it would be to install MEP systems in a project like this.

Right off the bat, I can think of an issue with the plumbing. Given that in MEP, expertise is focused on making things work properly from great heights, it would be interesting to see the challenges posed by a project like this, where all that we know is turned upside down.

With that in mind, I’d actually encourage readers to write in about what they see as the main challenges with a project like this, and whether something like this could actually work in the GCC.

Because let’s face it, if it does actually get built and is a success, it’s more than likely that we’ll see a version of it in the Middle East, sooner rather than later. So it probably would pay to get a head start!

Moving on to matters more local, the last few weeks have seen a flurry of excitement over the news that Qatar has stepped up its bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Doha. The release of the bid logo for the games, along with the slogan and website, has solidified all the talk about hosting the games into a tangible reality.

Although the host city is by no means decided (the International Olympic Committee will only officially announce the candidate cities on May 23), Doha has to have an extremely good chance of hosting the games, especially since the work it’s doing for the 2022 FIFA World Cup is already underway.

With Qatar pledging to spend around 37% of its annual budget on the build up to the events, there’s going to a be a lot crossed fingers come September 7, 2013.

Gavin Davids is deputy editor of MEP.

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Construction Week - Issue 765
Jun 29, 2020