Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Reading/ Speaking - The World's Tallest Building

A lesson idea here using an article from the BBC about the opening of the world's tallest building. Lends itself well to a scan reading exercise before some more detailed questions and discussion points. All are below.

Then you've set the scene perfectly for the extended speaking follow-up where students have to set up a new society, build a monument, organise an opening ceremony and decide the laws of this new country. Never fails to get students talking.

World's tallest building opens in Dubai

The world's tallest building has been opened with a dramatic fireworks ceremony in the Gulf emirate of Dubai

The Burj Khalifa was revealed to be 828m (2,716ft) high, far taller than the previous record holder, Taipei 101.

Known as the Burj Dubai during construction, the tower has been renamed after the leader of Dubai's oil-rich neighbour, Abu Dhabi.
Last month, Abu Dhabi gave Dubai a $10bn (£6.13bn) bail-out to help it pay off its debts.

Construction of the Burj Dubai began in 2004, at the height of an economic boom.

Clad in 28,000 glass panels, the tower has 160 floors and more than 500,000 sq m of space for offices and flats.

The tower also lays claim to the highest occupied floor, the tallest service lift, and the world's highest observation deck - on the 124th floor.
The world's highest mosque and swimming pool will meanwhile be located on the 158th and 76th floors.

Technical challenges

The opening ceremony, held 1,325 days after excavation work started, was attended by some 6,000 guests.

Though not complete on the inside, it was officially opened by Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

In a surprise move he renamed it Burj Khalifa - after the president of the United Arab Emirates and emir of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahayan.

Sheikh Mohammed described the tower as "the tallest building ever created by the hand of man".

"This great project deserves to carry the name of a great man. Today I inaugurate Burj Khalifa," he said.

Sheikh Mohammed also unveiled a plaque inside the tower bearing the new name.

A dramatic fireworks and lights show took place around the tower while a screen displayed its exact height, which had previously been kept secret.
At 828m, Burj Khalifa dwarfs the 508m Taipei 101 and the 629m KVLY-TV mast in the US, the tallest man-made structure. Its spire can been seen 95km (60 miles) away.

"We weren't sure how high we could go," said Bill Baker of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the building's structural engineer. "It was kind of an exploration... a learning experience."

Mohamed Ali Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties, the developer behind Burj Khalifa, told the BBC that the building's design had posed unprecedented technical and logistical challenges, not just because of its height, but also because Dubai was susceptible to high winds and was close to a geological fault line.

"We have been hit with lightning twice, there was a big earthquake last year that came across from Iran, and we have had all types of wind which has hit us when we were building. The results have been good and I salute the designers and professionals who helped build it," he said.

The design incorporates ideas from traditional Islamic architecture, while the open petals of a desert flower were the inspiration for the tower's base.
Burj Khalifa will be home to 1,044 luxury apartments, 49 floors of offices and eventually a 160-room Armani-branded hotel. Around 12,000 people are expected to live and work in the tower, which is part of a 500-acre development.

However, investors are facing losses even before the tower is completed because property prices in Dubai have slumped amid the global economic crisis.

Quick questions - scan reading. Only give your students a few minutes to find these answers before moving on to the comprehension questions

How tall is the tower?
When did they start building the tower?
How many floors does it have?
Which floor is the swimming pool on?
How many people were at the opening ceremony?

Comprehension questions

What is unique about this building? (give at least 3 examples)
What two things were revealed during the opening ceremony?
What problems have there been during the building of the tower?
What else has changed since construction work first began?

Discussion questions

Why do you think they have built the world´s tallest building?
Is it a waste of money or is it important that we have buildings like this?
Would you like to see the building?
Would you like to work or live in the building?

Creating a new society

This can work equally well with in groups or with just with one student. If you have a class then split them into groups and then they can present their ideas to the rest of the class. Each student gets a turn to speak as they need to explain what their role is in the new society.

The United Nations have decided to create a new country of 10,000 people. You have been chosen to organise this new society.You need to build a monument or landmark and decide the laws of this new country. Consider the following points:

- What is the name of this new country and where is it?
- You need to build a landmark or monument as a symbol of your new country - what will it be? What will it be called?
- You need to organise the opening ceremony. What will happen? What message do you want to send to the rest of the world?
- Who will be the President? What other roles do you need to assign?
- What will the official language(s) be?
- What jobs will there be for the new residents of the country?
- Will you encourage tourists to visit your new country?
- Will citizens be allowed to carry a gun?
- Will you have the death penalty?

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