Smart engineering brings Thailand’s tallest building to life

MahaNakhon Tower in Thailand

MahaNakhon Tower in Thailand

27 July 2016 - MahaNakhon Tower is the latest skyscraper to be added to Bangkok’s impressive skyline, and the tallest one at that. With a striking design resembling pixels, the skyscraper has become an iconic symbol in the city. At 314 m tall, construction of the skyscraper will be completed in late 2016, with the building set to open shortly thereafter.

To ensure its success, the tower’s developer, PACE Development Corporation, enlisted the help of global engineering firm, Aurecon, to undertake peer review work on the building’s design and construction. As a trusted and leading consultant in designing supertall buildings, Aurecon helped PACE achieve a higher level of confidence that the design will meet the client’s high standards for building performance and statutory requirements on safety and speed of construction. Given the building’s unique pixelated design, the designs were also run through a value engineering review to ensure optimum structural efficiency.

The work involved a comprehensive review of MahaNakhon’s engineering details, covering structural and mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) designs as well as the construction method statement. The MEP system has a long-term impact on operating and maintenance costs, and is critical to any building’s tenants.

“Aurecon is a leading global expert in tall buildings, with a reputation that has been bolstered in Asia through our involvement in some of the region’s supertall landmarks, including the 632 m-tall Shanghai Tower in China and the 462 m-tall Vincom Landmark 81 in Vietnam. Both are the tallest buildings in their respective countries. We are honored to be involved in the MahaNakhon development, and to help bring this iconic development to completion,” said Dr Assawin Wanitkorkul, Technical Director - Buildings of Aurecon in Thailand.

Wind and seismic loading

Supertall structures are complex so their design will always necessitate higher levels of engineering consultation. One of the first areas Aurecon turned its attention to was the soil-structure interaction, given Bangkok’s soft soil conditions. Bringing its experience and knowledge from work on similar supertall buildings, Aurecon worked with both the developer and main contractor, Bouygues-Thai, to investigate the effect of Bangkok’s soft soil on the performance of the main tower, especially under wind and seismic actions. The aim was to find the best solution to enhance building performance – with a focus on understanding lateral vibration levels and ensuring tenant comfort levels complied with international standards and guidelines.

Aurecon’s Tall Buildings Leader and Technical Director-Buildings, Dr Andy Davids, spent extensive time with the project team to understand the predicted wind loadings on the building. Dr Davids is widely recognised as one of the world’s leading experts in the field of tall buildings and together with the Aurecon team in Thailand, he provided advice based on detailed analyses on the anticipated wind loadings.

In particular, close attention was paid to the building’s distinct design which features a pixelated exterior shape and sharp corner edges, which meant higher wind forces would be induced than with a smoother, curved structure. These stronger forces not only impact the cost of materials required for the building’s construction but, if not properly addressed, they can also affect tenant comfort should lateral sway in the building become too strong. Adding to the complexity of the wind load calculations is the asymmetrical design of the MahaNakhon, which meant lateral sway may also be caused by gravitational forces. To ensure this was mitigated, Aurecon ran a detailed check on the building’s vertical structure members.

In total, the peer review for MahaNakhon took several months. During this time Aurecon engineers worked closely with the main contractor on the enhancement of blueprints – from the ground up – to ensure the most comprehensive engineering review possible.

“I am pleased to announce the project has been a resounding success, and we are delighted to have played a vital role, now that construction work is nearly concluded on the MahaNakhon. Once open, this distinctive Tower will add a vibrant buzz to life in Bangkok,” added Dr Assawin.

About MahaNakhon Tower

MahaNakhon is a luxury mixed-use skyscraper located in the Silom/Sathon central business area of Bangkok, Thailand, featuring a hotel, residences and retail establishments.

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