21 NOVEMBER 2011


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Article from BTNews 21 NOVEMBER 2011

AND FINALLY: Where does it all go?

After having a hefty meal at the restaurant on the top of the World’s Tallest Building in Dubai… you excuse yourself from the table and head to the W.C…and without even thinking about it, you flush the toilet.  “Where does it all go?

We wish we could take credit for being the first to ask of the world’s tallest building: “Where does it all go?” But we can’t. Terry Gross from America’s NPR radio station did that for us.  Actually, before her, Kate Ascher from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture wrote everything you ever wanted to know about skyscrapers in a book called “The Heights: Anatomy of a Skyscraper.”  All due credit aside, did you ever wonder what happens when a toilet is flushed on the 100th floor of a high-rise? And where it lands up when it finally makes it back down to earth? If so, read on…

After having a hefty meal at the restaurant on the top of the World’s Tallest Building.

You make a visit.

Your number one and two then travels 160 floors at breakneck pace, gravity interrupted by a sophisticated system of bends in the pipes that slows it down. These pipes are soundproofed by the way, because nobody wants to listen to travelling waste all day.

Anywhere else the waste would land in a septic system and then slowly make its way to the municipal wastewater treatment plant.  In greener buildings, it might even go through a network of filters so that it can be re-used for landscaping or flushing more toilets. But this is not what happens at the Burj Khalifa.

Ok, what then?

Well, since the Burj Khalifa was built in such haste nobody thought about where it would go.  There is no underground waste disposal for the building.  In London we might complain about Thames Water, but the Victorians put in a brilliant sewerage system.

Some unfortunate soul – mostly likely several actually – collects the waste in trucks.  It is estimated that at full occupancy it could amount to a good 13 tonnes of human excrement every day, but the Burj isn’t operating at full occupancy, so let’s reduce that number.  Let’s cut it down to 8 tonnes – a very conservative number. You have to admit, that’s still a lot of sh#t.

Dubai has 63 buildings that stand taller than 656ft.  What happens with them we don’t’ know, but our advice is to keep away from the poop wagons.  Try the new Metro.

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