From the inception of human civilization, man has insisted on challenging the conditions imposed by the environment surrounding him. Going through topographical, climatic and technical difficulties, we evolve through engineering examples and rebuild our concept of ‘impossible’ by defying the laws of physics and common sense.
There are a plethora of amazing engineering megaliths to boast of, but among the several great, the following for sure deserve to be highlighted:
1 Akashi Kaikyo Bridge
Inaugurated in 1998 in Japan, the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge, also called Pearl Bridge, is an impressive engineering marvel and one of the best bridges in the world. It spans between the city of Kobe and Awaji Island in the strait of Akashi. Designed by Satoshi Kashima, it took ten years to build it.
During its implementation in 2005, it even withstood an earthquake, causing an increase of distance between its pillars by 1 meter.The bridge site has a depth of 100 meters and currents of 14 Km/h flow, sometimes reaching 290 km/h. Its central span deserves a greater emphasis. With a total length of 3911 meters, it still holds the world record for the largest suspension bridge, specifically with a longest span of 1991 meters in length.
2 Millau Viaduct
Millau Bridge in the southern France is the most fascinating engineering work known worldwide for its grandeur and elegance.
Designed by the English architect Norman Foster and the French engineer Michel Virlogeux, this is the highest highway bridge in the world with a height of 343m.
The first study for constructing the Viaduct dates back to 1987. However, a consensus on the technical and architectural approach was reached in 1996. From there, it still took the French government years to decide which concessionaire would be responsible for the bridge. Finally, the work began in October of 2001, and was inaugurated in record time: December of 2004. It is built at a cost of 394,000,000 Euros.
Seven pillars of reinforced concrete support the board of 2460 meters long bridge. This, in turn is formed by eight stretches of steel and supported by stationary cables. Weighing 36 thousand tons, 32 meters wide and 4.2 meters thick, it is the world’s largest cable-supported track. The track is also notable for the good visibility for drivers. There are smooth curves of 20 km radius and a slope of 3% from the south to the north. Safety is reinforced with collision barriers and screens to protect drivers from the violent local winds.
3 USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77)
This monolithic aircraft carrier house boasts of carrying about 3200 crew members and 90 aircrafts, mostly F-18 “Hornets” and “Super Hornets” at a single time and weighs about 100,000 tonnes. It was initiated with a class “Nimitz” in 1975, which is a type of carrier with a length of 333 meters.
The “George HW Bush” which owes its name to the 41st US president, was deployed in the area of operations of the US Fifth Fleet on 15 February (for a period of nine months). The Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, is responsible for US naval forces in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea and eastern facade of the African continent.
4 Beijing National Stadium
Located in Beijing, China and based on the logic of apparent random patterns of nature, the Beijing National Stadium was built to house the 29th Summer Olympics in 2008. Also known as the Bird’s Nest, it has completely covered stands for beams, having continuous and interlocked metal trusses, seemingly random, mimicking the design of kindling in bird nests.
Conceived and built by the Consortium of Swiss architects Herzog & De Meuron, the British engineering consulting firm Arup & Partners and the Chinese group China Architecture Design & Research, Beijing National Stadium won an international competition for Urban Planning held in 2002 by the Municipal Commission.
The pattern of metallic leg arrangement is the result of intensive bio-metric and mathematical research, resulting in a repetitive series of beams and trusses in upward and downward curve which efficiently distributes wind and gravity loads.
A specially designed computer program was used to model the structure of this amazing engineering. The saddle-shaped cover has major metal lines starting from the rocking projection in the field, running along the entire upper horizontal surface, descending along the facade and finding 241-ton truss columns, each arranged around the concrete base that is prefabricated in pyramidal format. These points of support form a large semi-open and public space inside. It’s nearly a span of five-year construction that began in December 2003.
More than 41,000 tonnes of steel was used in the construction; if all the lines forming the outside were placed in a straight line, they would measure 43 kilometers altogether. By installing the wiring inside the square section of the metal parts, the cost of conduit was reduced.
5 Bailong Elevator
Located in the lap of Wulingyuan (Hunan province), a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its 800 meters high sandstone pillars, the Bailong panoramic lift is a radical illustration of advanced engineering.
Officially the largest elevator in the world, it consists of 3 two-storey elevators that can carry 50 people in each storey. The structure was made of steel and glass which allows visitors to enjoy the landscape of the cliffs. It has the ability to climb 330 meters from one of the local cliffs in just one minute. With construction lasting for three years and costing a whopping US $ 20 million, it stirred an international environmental controversy. Even before its construction, the site had in queue 5 million visitors a year.
It demands a lot of guts to enjoy the landscape, as there are only two options to reach the top of the cliff; either climb it for two hours or face it in just one minute with fast elevator.
Post completion, this elevator entered the Guinness Book with the following records:
- Largest elevator with panoramic platform
- Faster lift of large capacity
- Largest elevator located in the open air.
If it wasn’t enough to blow your mind, this great engineering beauty has earthquake detectors so that it can be quickly evacuated to avoid a disaster.
6 Palm Islands
Engineering wonders like Palm Islands are a built of the century. The Palm Islands is made up of three artificial palm-shaped islands, the Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Deira. It is the largest artificial island in the world and the largest project Dubai has ever seen. They were built in order to further leverage tourism in the region and it is needless to say that the aim is well-achieved.
The master plan behind the mega construction was to build a city on the Island, with shopping centers, restaurants, hotels, apartments and houses. To this end, Nakheel Properties, a real estate company from the United Arab Emirates was hired. For the construction, Dutch contractor Van Oord, one of the world’s leading experts in land reclamation, was called to help with the dredging of the sea.
Napoleon Bonaparte’s dream of a tunnel linking France to England finally took the shape of a railway tunnel 50.5 km long. The political situation that involved the two countries in Napoleon’s time, did not allow such a feat, but in 1987, with the tables turned, the two countries had a joint hand in the construction of this channel linking both the ends.
The project was initiated in 1987 by the Study Group for the Tunnel Channel (Channel Tunnel Study Group), which in 1960 published a report with some points for the project as the recommendation to construct two main and one service tunnels (as was subsequently adopted). The project began in 1973 but was discontinued in 1975 due to lack of funding. At that time, 250 meters of a test tunnel had already been built.
In 1984 the Eurotunnel was once again called into question, this time however in a joint proposal by the British and French governments. The proposal adopted for this new project was very similar to that given in 1973, containing a 3-section tunnel and linking Calais in France to Folkestone in England.
It took 7 years, 15000 workers and hi-end equipments such as radars, sonars, oil exploration machinery (for soil analysis and foundation calculation), tunnel boring machine (TBM) for the excavation of the tunnel. It was excavated between 40 and 75 meters deep by the English and French at the same time and at the end, a tunnel of perfect alignment and accuracy was obtained, with only 32 cm of error. The land withdrawn with the excavation was used to expand the coastal areas and only the coast of Folkestone gained approximately 360,000 m².
Of the 50.5 km long, 37.9 km is under the sea. The project is coordinated by Eurotunnel plc and offers three types of service: Le Shuttle, a train that carries vehicles, Eurostar passenger transport connecting stations leading to Paris and London and the freight train. The crossing lasts on average 35 minutes and each year approximately 7 million people use the service.
The American Society of Civil Engineers declared the tunnel one of the seven wonders of the modern world.
8 Three Gorges Dam
The famous Three Gorges Dam (Three Gorges Dam) is the largest dam in the world. It was built on the Yangtze River, the largest river in China. The construction began in 1993 and was completed on May 20, 2006, with an investment of 17.9 billion Euros.
As far as size is concerned, the Three Gorges Dam is 2,309 meters long and 185 meters high. In its construction were used 27.200.000 m3 of concrete and 463000 tons of iron (enough to build 63 Eiffel Towers). 102,600,000 m3 of land (earth and stone) was excavated for the foundations.
When the water is at a maximum of 175 meters above sea level, the dam’s water reserve is 600 kilometers long and has an average width of 1.1 kilometers. When the water is at this height, the reserve contains about 39 km3 of water. The surface area of the reserve in this state is 1,045 km2.
9 Chinese Glass Bridge
The Chinese glass bridge was built 300 meters above the Grand Canyon of Zhangjiajie in the city of Hunan. It was designed by Israeli architect Haim Dotan and its construction cost about 10.9 billion rupees.
Termed as the tallest and longest glass bridge in the world, it has a length of 430 meters, being 375 meters suspended. In addition, it has the world’s largest platform for bungee jumping and the longest swing in Asia. The bridge is 6 meters wide and consists of 99 panels with three layers of glass in each. In addition, it joins the two cliffs of the Canyon, through four steel beams and concrete (two at each end) that allow the support.
Inaugurated on August 20, 2016, the bridge has an extraordinary view of steep mountains, usually covered with mist. Officials have fixed the maximum permissible limit of visitors at 8000/day.
However, the safety of a work of this size was a cause of doubt for future visitors. With this, before the inauguration, volunteers were invited to test the resistance of the bridge. They were allowed to hit repeatedly with a hammer on one of the windows of the structure. The result was the breaking of only one of the three layers of glass, and the other two were intact. After this test, a car still circled over this cracked glass several times and produced no other damage.
10 Atlantic Road
The Atlantic Road, Atlanterhavsveien in Norwegian, is far from being any road! In addition to connecting the mainland coast to the town Averøy, hopping from island to island, it is one of the most sought after tourist destinations in Norway.
It was inaugurated in 1989, and took more than 120 million dollars from the exchequer. The work lasted six years, during which it faced 12 strong storms, with hurricane records coming from the intense currents of air present in the place. During the project, it was also necessary to take into account the strong sea shocks with the road in several points. But today, this is one of the factors that catch the attention of tourists, who at any moment may be surprised by a wave hitting their car.
This marvelous course, built literally on the seashore, has more than 8 kilometers, which include peculiar curves (which provoke the feeling of being on a roller coaster), atypical forms, eight bridges over the Atlantic Ocean, small islands, reefs and fjords (deep inlets of the sea on the continent) that provide an inexplicable landscape. At certain times of the year, when the sea is calm, the seals, whales and dolphins, let the waves to the side to become the attraction. This work harmonizes architecture and engineering, even winning in 2005 the award for best Norwegian construction.
11 Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia
Jeddah, the coastal city and the second largest in Saudi Arabia is getting ready for the world’s tallest building, the Jeddah Tower, about 1km high. As per the Saudi government, 26 of the 200 floors have been erected and it is expected to be ready by 2020, at a cost of $ 1.23 billion.
Spread and built in a gross building area of 245,000 square meters, the skyscraper will accommodate the world’s highest observatory and house several offices, a Four Seasons hotel with 200 rooms, 121 flats and 360 residential apartments.The inspiration of the concept of the tower is a desert plant that sprouts with a leaf and during its growth others appear. The architects responsible for the project thus created three cutouts along the tower, which are single-storey floors separating in order for the wind to pass through them, ensuring greater stability.
For the locomotion inside the tower, 12 escalators and 59 elevators will be installed, with one tenth of them having speed above 60 km/hour.
The maintenance of a pleasant temperature will be done by air conditioning systems along with special glasses that help to disperse a good part of the solar rays.
To ensure safety, walls capable of preventing small fires and containment galleries, having their own electricity, hydraulic systems, and communication as well as infirmary systems are installed and are capable of withstanding considerable temperatures. These galleries are necessary to contain a large number of people while others are removed quickly in the building – without them there would be great chaos by the time everyone accessed the elevators at the same time in order to escape an imminent danger.
According to engineers involved in the construction, the building has a close proximity to sea and in order to sustain the structure and prevent any corrosion, foundations 60 meters deep were needed. The contractor is also testing different types of concrete.
Another hurdle is the wind. To tackle the problem, the shape of the tower will not be homogeneous. “As the format will change, the winds will bypass the building and will not have as extreme an impact as a concrete block,” says architect Gordon Gill, from the architectural firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, in charge of the project.
Taking concrete to the higher floors is also a major challenge. Engineers are likely to use methods similar to those employed in the construction of the Burj Khalifa, the current holder of the world’s tallest skyscraper title at 828 meters in height and 163 floors, where 170,000 cubic meters of concrete were pumped by a single bomb, usually at night, when lower temperatures facilitated the system’s operation.