Kids’ Guide to LEGO Success

Why don't skyscrapers fall over?


Ever tried building a really tall tower out of LEGO and it fell over? Luckily someone’s asked Techno Mum’s Tech Line about real-life skyscrapers. Why don’t skyscrapers fall over?

For starters each floor on a skyscraper is joined to the other floors – it’s a bit like taping all your LEGO bricks together. This strengthens the structure and makes it less likely to wobble.

The Shard

The stability also comes from something called the structure’s “centre of gravity”. A human’s centre of gravity is somewhere in your abdomen – that’s your tummy. And the higher your centre of gravity is above the floor, the tougher it is to balance. Riding a unicycle, for instance, it can be particularly difficult not to wobble. But, if you’re sitting on a skateboard, it’s much easier to balance – even if you’re scooting along quite fast.

Skyscrapers, like trees, have deep foundations under the ground which help make the structure’s centre of gravity as low as possible, making it super stable. For example, The Shard in London is the tallest building in Western Europe and its foundations are 53 metres deep – that’s roughly the same as 15 stories!

Shard 1

Talking of the Shard, we spoke to Roma Agrawal – a structural engineer who worked on building the Shard! She’s got one more useful tip on how they stopped it toppling over…

“My name is Roma I’m a structural engineer and that means my job is to make sure bridges and buildings stand up and don’t fall on us. The reason that skyscrapers don’t fall over is because it’s a little bit like a spine in a human body. In the middle of the skyscraper we put a big concrete or a steel core which acts like a spine. And it basically means that if someone tries to push it over, that spine is nice and stiff and it gives the building some stability”

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