The completion of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Dubai, made scores of international headlines this week. Among those who took part in the huge project in the United Arab Emirates was a Czech firm called Pega Hoist, whose high-speed construction elevators were used throughout the building stage. One, even remains permanently, some 600 metres off the ground.
Even in photographs the Burj Dubai is breathtaking: a skyscraper like no other rising 828 metres above the city. A Czech company, Pega Hoist provided and ran powerful elevators at the site to pave the way for construction: lifts with payloads of up to 3.2 tonnes, capable of running for hours and days on end. A little earlier I spoke to Pavel Policar, one of the firm’s co-founder’s, who agreed that working on the Burj Dubai had been nothing if not a challenge:
“It was very demanding, first just to get the tender, I’d say probably 20 percent. And then to realise the project without any technical problems for the next four years. That was more challenging, I’d say, about 80 percent of the effort or so.”
I understand that there were eight hoists that ran up the first 425 metres alone: did you have to develop new technology for those?
“Absolutely, absolutely. We had to develop all kinds of new technology and broke a number of world records. Number 1 was the static structure of the whole thing, and then there were the motors and the brakes. Then there was the longest ever vertical distance to travel for a rack-and-pinion hoist. They were also the heaviest machines, carrying up to 3.2 tonnes, at 100 metres per minute, with no counterweight. Physically those machines ‘climbed’ up with the building.”
At peak hours, Pavel Policar says between 8,000 to 12,000 workers on the job depended on the lifts. Now that the project is finished, one feather in the company’s cap was that a single service elevator near the top was installed permanently in the building. Pavel Policar again:
“We wouldn’t be the contractor on the site, fully supporting the site, if we hadn’t won this ‘cherry on the cake’. It’s a small thing, a rack-and-pinion 40 metre long lift that is situated at 611 metres. That makes it the highest situated lift anywhere on Earth.”
Now the firm has already been approached for possible cooperation on an even taller structure in Dubai which could soon be in the works, edging closer to the fabled kilometre above the ground. It’s early days, but Pega Hoist has clearly proven capable of rising to the challenge.