architecture - engineering - construction
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Great excavations & sunken penthouses


Lower-level luxury is the latest must-have in prime New York and London townhouses. Even though building underground is about 50% more expensive than building above ground, the impossibility of extending up or sideways make it the only viable option.

Lot coverage regulations in many countries stipulate that you can only build on certain parts and percentages of the lot, usually about 25 – 50%, but the basement area is generally not included in that percentage. So the depth and size of these sunken penthouses are limited only to the amount of money you are willing to spend, which will vary with soil conditions, … AND the ability of your concrete to withstand groundwater pressure.

As one of the world’s most crowded cities, Singapore has already built upward - with apartment buildings reaching as high as 70 stories -, reclaimed underused properties for housing and pushed out coastlines for more usable land. To accommodate its ever growing population, it is now considering a novel solution: building underground to create an extensive, interconnected city, with shopping malls, transportation hubs, public spaces, pedestrian links and even cycling lanes.

As groundwater pressure is high on the island nation, such projects will require smart concrete engineering and the use of PRAHs in concrete mixes, in order to provide durable and waterproof underground structures. Third generation crystalline admixtures, such as PENETRON ADMIX, have been used extensively for almost 2 decades in Singapore and provide total concrete protection to landmark projects such as Changi Airport Terminal 3, Vivo City, Gardens By the Bay, The Sail etc.

The American Concrete institute’s recent report on Chemical Admixtures for Concrete suggests crystalline admixtures as the only true PRAH (permeability-reducing admixture for hydrostatic conditions).

Onwards and downwards!

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