Months of planning have paid off for structural engineer Tom Holmes and Roland Trim, leader of the Advanced Technology and Research business at global design and engineering consultancy Arup, who have set a new world record for the tallest free standing domino tower.
The pair of engineering experts beat the previous record by 20cm using 2,688 dominos to create the 5.275 metre tall tower. The structure would literally tower over a London double decker bus by over a metre.
The creation took seven and a half hours to build but the real work came in the months of computer modelling beforehand, which was designed to test digital prototypes of the different structural permutations.
“We were trying to use as few dominos as we could to reach the height. There was a cycle of designing, trialling and redesigning and the result used less than a third of the dominos of the previous record. We started with a highly optimised cone (which was difficult to build) and ended up with a very pragmatic tripod. The tower is not exactly neat and tidy but it still held up!” jokes Mr Holmes.
The previous record for the tallest domino structure was set at 5.08 metres high and consisted of 9,140 dominos – more than three times that used in Tom’s tower. It was erected and toppled by students from Buchloe, Germany on 5 September 2010.
“Like on any project, we tested our theories before starting construction. We avoided the need for complex strength calculations by physical testing; a single domino can support my weight without deforming and I can easily lift a box of 3000 dominos. Armed with that simple logic, we could start to design complex structures that would be able to reach great heights and stand up by themselves,” explained Mr Trim.
Although the project was designed principally to be a bit of fun Mr Holmes noted the remarkable coincidence of the tower’s form, which bears a striking resemblance to the Burj Kalifa, the tallest building in the world.
“The form has more material at the base where it is needed, and has a repetitive pattern on each storey, which made building quicker,” said Mr Holmes.
“As engineers, we’re constantly looking for creative solutions to solve problems so it’s great to put my skills to use in a fun task like this. It’s not every day that you can say you’ve built the world’s largest domino tower!”
This is not the end of the story, Tom is considering breaking 6m within the next year and Roland predicts that some healthy competition could push the record to over 20m by 2016.