Top 10 Building Safety TED Talks


TED talks are an excellent resource for anyone looking to further their knowledge and self-education. Here are some videos to help boost your knowledge in the sphere of building safety. While there are many high-quality, inspiring TED talks, Operance has collected our favourites to get you started.

1. Could we build wooden skyscrapers?

Architect and urban designer Stefan Al believes that architecture is more than just buildings. In this highly-watchable animated explainer, Stefan introduces Mjøstårnet, the world’s tallest wooden building, made almost entirely from the trees of neighboring forests.

So how does it compare to steel and concrete skyscrapers in respect of fire and structural safety?

2. Is fire a solid, a liquid, or a gas?

577,053 incidents were attended by Fire Rescue Services in the year ending March 2022, this was a 11% increase compared with the previous year (source: FIRE0102), but what exactly is…fire? In this interesting video, Elizabeth Cox illuminates the science behind fire.

3. How one design flaw almost toppled a skyscraper.

This video explains how Diane Hartley (then an undergraduate architecture student) made a shocking discovery. After reviewing Citicorp Center’s building plans for her thesis, she’d stumbled on an oversight that threatened to topple the 59-story tower into one of New York City’s most densely populated districts.

4. What if cracks in concrete could fix themselves?

In this fascinating video, Congrui Jin explores how the most widely used construction material in the world, concrete, is prone to catastrophic cracking that has an immense financial and environmental impact. What follows is a radical idea to create a more resilient concrete.

5. How the world’s tallest skyscraper was built.

Taking 5-years to build, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa was completed on 1 October 2009, topping out at 828-meters. The revolutionary design enabled the structure to surpass the previous record holder by over a massive 60%. What innovations allowed for such a huge leap in height? Alex Gendler digs into the architecture of this unprecedented project.

6. A New Method for Escaping Tall Buildings

We’ve been building high-rises for 100 years. But there’s still no good way to get people out quickly.

Kevin Stone created the Rescue Reel, an example of ingenuity driven by curiosity and passion.

Read the Blog Post here

7. Will there ever be a mile-high skyscraper?

This insight into legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s imagination explores how, in 1956, he proposed a mile-high skyscraper, a building five times as high as the Eiffel Tower. As a result of his ambitions, bigger and bigger buildings are going up all around the world. Stefan Al explains how this impossible idea continues to inspire.

8. When bad engineering makes a natural disaster even worse.

Upon investigating the impact the devastating earthquake had on Haiti in 2010, TED Fellow Peter Haas surmises that “Haiti was not a natural disaster, it was a disaster of engineering.” The solution: Help builders on the ground get trained in modern engineering practices, so they can rebuild their country stronger, brick by brick.

9. Building the impossible: Golden Gate Bridge

Charles Ellis and Joseph Strauss were the chief engineers behind the two 227 meter tall towers assembled to support California’s Golden Gate Bridge. Even before construction began, many thought the project impossible: the strait was home to powerful winds, constant fog, and earthquakes, so how did they do it?

10. Why we should build wooden skyscrapers

No it’s not a repeat of the first video on this list, here, architect Michael Green highlights, 75% of the population will live in cities by 2040. This means cities will be larger, and denser, whilst skyscrapers are a solution, we need to forget about steel and concrete and build them from wood. It’s not only possible to build safe wooden structures up to 30 stories tall, but higher.

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