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Alain Robert Conquers Burj Khalifa

19 Apr 2011

Last month Alain Robert, who is fondly referred to as the ‘French Spiderman’ scaled the heights of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The building is 2,217 ft tall and features 28,261 glass panels on its exterior. In the past Robert has climbed more than 70 sky scrapers including the Willis Tower in Chicago and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpa but the imposing Burjh Khalifa was his toughest test to date.

The climb took Robert almost six hours to complete and he didn’t finish until he reached the tip on the towers tapered spire that sits above the top floor.
Robert has previously climbed without permission from building owners and without a harness under cover of darkness. However for the Burj Khalifa he gained permission and agreed to use a safety harness for the climb. When questioned about this decision Robert commented: “You know, this is such an iconic building so I can understand that even though they are taking care so much about my precious life, they are also taking care a lot of that precious Burj Khalifa.”

The video below shows highlights of Robert’s amazing climb. As you can see the Burj Khalifa is an imposing glass structure and his achievement is nothing short of astonishing considering the dry, hot desert conditions in Dubai. The fact that he scaled most of the building by straddling the aluminium frames housing flat glass panels reveals this climb to be even more remarkable.


Although not as tall as the Burj Khalifa, The Shard, currently under construction in London, will no doubt be on Roberts’s list of buildings to climb once it’s complete in 2012! We have mentioned the London Bridge building on the blog before and are eager to see it as a complete structure standing out as the tallest building in Europe. 

Cleaning buildings like the Burj Khalifa and The Shard can be an arduous task especially when you consider the amount of glass that is used to create them. Unfortunately, the designers of the Burj Khalifa were unable to take advantage of glass panels with self cleaning properties because the dry desert conditions in Saudi Arabia do not allow for them to function properly.

However, there would be no such problems experienced by glass buildings in London using Pilkington Activ™ self-cleaning glass because there is enough rainful in the UK to wash dirt away which has been loosened by the dual action coating, a feature that enables the glass to react with ultra-violet (UV) rays from natural daylight to break down organic dirt. A large glass building like The Shard would certainly benefit from installing glass with this technology and reduce cleaning and maintenance costs at the same time.

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