The continued inflow of people in urban areas has put a strain on availability of residential houses in many cities around the world. Because of unavailability of space and increased human population, the construction of houses in cities has sought to utilize the space by building high rising houses to cater for the limited space. Coincidentally, most of the cities are constructed in earthquake prone areas. Thus, it became a wake-up call for construction engineers to develop structural designs that can accommodate more people while still being able to withstand earthquakes. This paper discusses how social movements have brought about the need for structures that rise in the sky while still maintaining the safety standards required of them.
Historical and Economic Perspective
Pyramid-shaped structures are not a new phenomenon in construction and building as evidenced by the ancient Egyptian pyramids. Engineers abandoned these buildings as the focus changed to round or rectangular constructions. However, proliferation of people in the world and their movement to urban areas provoked a revival and interest in pyramid shaped buildings. Moreover, it induced engineers try to cater for increased demand for houses and more frequent earthquakes, which pose a great danger to high-rising buildings (Gueguen, 2013).
The need for pyramid shaped building is caused by mass movement of people to urban areas where there is limited space for construction of bungalows. It is crucial that such houses are able to accommodate more people owing to their potential to be raised higher in the space while retaining their safety standards. Moreover, such houses come about as cheaper in terms of costs associated with their construction. This is unlike the circular or rectangular high-rising houses, which, in spite of their high constructions, are not resistant to seismic waves from earthquakes (Robert, 2007).
The possible solution for the challenge of space and seismic waves in build up areas is to construct pyramid-shaped high-rising buildings able to accommodate more people and to resist earthquakes. This could be done by utilizing two types of controlling decisions. Firstly, it is the building elevation control, which can provide seismic loading. Secondly, it is the much needed vibration control in case of an earthquake. Pyramid-shaped high-rise buildings provide better stability comparing to other shapes as the elevation of such structures prevents amplifications caused by resonance. They are also able to disperse shear wave energy in a wide range of frequencies.
In the last century, circular or rectangular high-rise buildings were believed to be more stable than pyramids. They were also thought to represent the height of architectural designs yet history has proved these buildings unreliable when it comes to withstanding seismic waves from earthquakes. This has been revealed in many cases in Japan and Indonesia, which are prone to earthquakes. The major factor in the construction of any structure is its ability to resist earthquakes or winds, as opposed to magnificence as the basis for construction of many high-rise buildings, which easily collapse in case of small earthquakes (Gueguen, 2013).
As environmental and social changes in terms of settlement continues to be experienced in urban towns, the only viable solution is to adapt pyramid-shaped residential building that not only resist earthquakes but are also stable and cheap to construct and maintain. The only disadvantage is that such like pyramids for residential house remind people of ancient times when the science of structural construction had not evolved to the present levels. Yet, such buildings provide a viable solution to the modern challenge of buildings collapsing and killing people because they are not resistant to smallest pressures from the ground (Bozorgnia & Bertero, 2004).
Proposed Solution Concept
The concept forming the proposed solution is that pyramid-shaped structures are more stable than structures of other shapes. They could also provide a solution to territorial problems in many urban areas where there is high demand for space to construct residential houses. This is true that environmental and social transformations have caused higher frequency of earthquakes especially in built-up areas where human activities are likely to initiate earthquakes. It is interesting that earthquakes are now common in residential areas that were traditionally known to experience no earth tremors.
The major challenge is that pyramid-shaped building requires a wider base on the ground to be elevated even higher. The problem we are trying to solve is a problem of space. Therefore, if we are to have a high-rise pyramid building, we need first to find a solution to the challenge of on-ground space, which is difficult to get. Technically, the base determines the stability of a structure standing on the ground. The higher the structure, the greater the space on the ground; these two elements are directly interrelated. However, with proper designs, we should be able to circumvent the challenge of ground space and have stable, safe, and reliable residential structures free from the effects of seismic waves (Khan, 2013).