Burj Khalifa, Dubai
George Formby, eat your heart out. The tallest building in the world was never going to be easy to clean, but it takes a team of 36 window cleaners three months to wash this 2,717 foot skyscraper. Battling small whirlwinds called vortices, men with good old fashioned buckets and squeegees wash the 24,348 windows even in dust storms and scorching sun. The work is so gruelling that they have to carry electrolyte packs and wear special clothing. 12 state-of-the-art machines move along tracks fixed to the outside of the building, transporting them to the necessary windows. Check out the BBC video below for some footage of men at work on the Burj Khalifa.
Quetzalcoatl’s Nest, Mexico
If you thought cleaning a square house was hard, try cleaning one shaped like a snake. Designed by eccentric Mexican architect Javier Senosiain, Quetzalcoatl’s nest may look like something from a playground, but it is actually ten separate condos spread over 16,500 square feet. When designing a house, basing its shape on a legendary flying serpent is rarely the first thing that springs to mind, but it was Senosiain’s brilliant solution to working with the undulating land. With the awkwardly placed windows of different shapes and sizes, the 165 x 20 foot serpent’s head and the writhing walls, this is surely one of the world’s hardest (and strangest) buildings to clean.
Capital Gate, Abu Dhabi
The Middle East is famous for ambitious skyscrapers with daring shapes and designs, and one of the most striking of all is Capital Gate. One of the tallest buildings in the city, it inclines 18 degrees to the west, making it four times as crooked as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. With 12,500 glass panes, it takes a team 30 days to wash the whole building, and as soon as they are finished, they have to start again. To help the cleaners work with such an extreme lean, gondolas are built into the exterior of the building. Various techniques help them keep the outside spotless including rope access, boom and gantry systems and spraying with high pressure hoses.