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The beauty of pyramid design

Shard of Glass

While the pyramidal/conical shape of the building has created some design challenges, it has helped its structural dynamics.

'The shape is beautiful for the type of structure we wanted to design, ' says Moazami. Most skyscrapers are designed primarily to deal with wind loads, and the conical shape minimises the effect of high winds at the top that would cause the building to sway.

With a smaller cross-sectional area, wind can pass around the building rather than rebound off it - so it can be designed for smaller horizontal forces.

This is particularly important for the residential oors, where building codes require that the threshold for allowable sway be much lower than for ofce oors. The conical shape also ensures that the building's centre of gravity is lower than for a box-shaped building of the same height, reducing the tendency for it to overturn.

Mechanical and electrical engineers from Arup have had to work hard to make sure that the building is economic to run. So instead of just being a colossal edice vaunting economic prosperity - like most skyscrapers - the Shard is marketing itself as a symbol of sustainability. It already claims it will use 30% less energy than a typical building of similar size.

Having so many facilities in one building will reduce the need to travel, reducing energy consumption. A ventilated, double-skin cladding system will reduce heat gain, and excess heat from the office floors will be used to heat the residential floors higher up the building. And at the building's pinnacle - which will be seen from kilometres around - will be a passive heat rejection system, or radiator, which will allow hot air from the building to be drawn up through the building as cool air passes over it.

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