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Sinking Safety Skyscrapers

Cut the evacuation time by lowering the elevation.
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The Sinking Safety Skyscraper is a skyscraper with foundations that allow the building to be partially retracted into the earth. There are emergency Departure Floors at regular stages up the skyscraper and people know that generally they have just to walk to the closest one, rather than walk all the way to the bottom.

This is because in case of emergency the skyscraper is designed to sink to a number of preset depths. Any Departure Floors below the ground have underground evacuation points so you depart the building and walk up to the ground level. Whatever Departure Floor is on the ground allows people to walk out directly.

This allows any fires in the midsection or higher to be lowered so the fires are easier for fire-fighters to reach and at the same time that people are speedily evacuated. It also has the advantage that the building has a chance of dodging planes by retracting itself into its foundations.

Aristotle, Aug 05 2002


       This is exactly what I've been saying! So no-one listened to you either, eh?
Here, have a non vertically challenged Croissant.
NickTheGreat, Aug 05 2002

       News item: "Energy giant Enron's stock was emasculated today with the announcement of gross accounting irregularities. In a related story, the company's towering 40-floor skyscraper seems to have retracted to a pitiful little stub of only four floors."
beauxeault, Aug 05 2002

       reading the above - does the cold affect it at all?
po, Aug 05 2002

       Well it was big when it was erected.
FarmerJohn, Aug 05 2002

       Imagine yourself trying to exit a standard building with a standard fire, descending 40 stories in, worst case scenario, swirling smoke and fumes. Now imagine yourself from trying to exit this modern Titanic, *climbing* 40 stories, through swirling smoke and fumes. I don't think so.   

       (Remember also that the kinetic energy stored in an office building is huge (for the WTC, it was an appreciable fraction of an atomic blast); I don't think you can come up with the motor that will raise and lower this monstrosity.)
DrCurry, Aug 05 2002

       Remember- don't take the elevator when the building is on fire. Wouldn't the same apply an elevator that raises or lowers a building instead of a passenger car?
Mr Burns, Aug 05 2002

       DrVindaloo: With a standard fire on a skyscraper you described you would have to descend 40 floors. With Departure Floors every 10 floors the building would descend 30 floors, leaving the fire lower, the higher people with only 10 floors to walk and, in the worst case, someone on the ground floor with 30 floors to walk up in a seperate environment.   

       UnaBubba: I was thinking of pack dinosaurs harnessed into a team along with a pulley system ...
Aristotle, Aug 06 2002

       If the building is divided into diagonal sections, with the sixth floor on the left in the same section as the second floor on the right, the sections could be sheared off, one at a time, from the bottom up. The building would just "gently" slide down into the street.
FarmerJohn, Aug 06 2002

       But that would happen anyway (though maybe not gently).
angel, Aug 06 2002

       You *could* have a water-based system for raising and lowering the building (is the word hydraulic? something like that...). Basically, the building would have a larger base underground, then when you let out some of the water from the great underground reservoir beneath the building, it wouls simply go down with the water.
NickTheGreat, Aug 06 2002

       Retractable buildings was half-baked in Stingray. I always found the opening title scene, in which the missile alert sounds and a lone car is seen driving through Marineville whilst the buildings disappear all around, to be rather amusing. However there are a couple of problems with the idea.

Firstly, services such as water, gas and 'lectrickery. You'd have to come up with a system of shutting them all off before the building starts sinking and then reconnecting them again once everything's snugly located underground.

Secondly, given the size of the buildings, any lifting equipment would probably raise and lower the building at such a slow rate that the building would have burnt to the ground before you could lower it there.

Thirdly, rather than dodging incoming projectiles, it would be much better to have gigantic, spring-loaded boxing gloves attached to the sides of the building. They could just ping out and squish anything that entered their airspace.
DrBob, Aug 06 2002

       Gas. Large methane gas containers already raise and lower themselves under the pressure of the gas they contain. Balance a building on one of them. All plumbing, electrics etc. would be brought in through flexible/extendible pipes.

There, I've fixed your problem. A fire breaks out, release the pressure and glide safely and sedately into the ground. People could get off as required when they reach a suitable level.

What? Gas is inflammable? Dangerously explosive when contained under pressure you say? Get away...
namaste, Aug 06 2002

       To lower buildings using a material I would recommend sand - cheap, inert and very Egyptian.   

       One way to counter all this "skycrapers are too big" rumblings would be do this with a ziggurat, designed so that the each level can lower itself to form building with a lower profile.
Aristotle, Aug 06 2002

       Floating cities.   

       Held above water by giant tanks full of air. Flood the tank to sink the city.   

       What? You're worried about people drowning? Just stay indoors and close the windows!
pottedstu, Aug 06 2002

       The problem I'm having is that supposing the building in question is forty stories tall, one would need a sizable hole. Actually, I like the idea of having the building rest on water or gas, with valves to let gas escape if necessary. The building would drop at a steady pace, would it not?
watermelancholy, Aug 06 2002

       If the building was rested on water you could always use the water to put out the fire, as the building descended.
Aristotle, Aug 06 2002

       Good point. I don't feel like doing the math, but any sizable building could shoot water a good distance.
watermelancholy, Aug 06 2002

       To paraphrase (read: mangle into oblivion) an old saying, don't lower the building, raise the planet. Instead of having the building drop into the ground, simply (ha-ha) put large, multiple catapults in close proximity to our skyscraper and when triggered by the appropriate early-warning system, they will fling protective mounds of dirt and sand to safely envelop the structure. Couple this with several additional floors atop the structure which are to be loaded with fire-retardant chemicals and you have the perfect ultra-safe skyscraper!   

       Don't like that idea? OK, how about if we build a moat around the skyscraper which contains that stuff which, when mixed with its appropriate reagent, almost instantly turns into a rapidly-expanding foam layer which would surround our building with a protective jacket.   

       I'm so full of good ideas my eyes are brown.
Canuck, Aug 08 2002


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