An architect’s dream can sometimes present the impossible. It falls to construction and engineers to take those plans and make them come true. Among modular construction practices and cookie-cutter-houses, brilliant feats of construction continue to rise up around the globe.
Through imagination and technology, what may have been impossible has long become within reach. It’s important to remember the role that construction plays in turning plans into reality and to celebrate that.
With celebration and awe in mind, here are 5 amazing construction projects from around the world
Gotthard Base Tunnel, Switzerland
Taking 20 years to complete, The Gotthard Base Tunnel is the longest and deepest railroad tunnel in the world. In order to expedite the construction process, four separate entrances were used so construction could take place at a variety of stages along the project.
A variety of contractors were involved in the project, each responsible for a portion of the tunnel. The contract for the ventilation system within the tunnel was worth $45 million alone.
The project cost $12.3 billion, with connecting tunnels and stop-points bringing that number to $23 billion. The tunnel was seen as worth the cost as it would finally break down the barrier the Alps created for trade between European countries.
The project stole the title of “longest underground rail tunnel in the world” from the Seikan tunnel in Japan by 5 kilometers.
Mjøstårnet by Voll Arkitekter in Brumunddal, Norway
Completed in 2019, the Mjøstårnet building in Norway became the world’s tallest wooden building. Mjøstårnet is made up of 85.4 meters of cross-laminated timber – a popular material in sustainable and green construction.
Image borrowed from Dezeen.
As concerns about sustainability and green construction practices grow, cross-laminated timber is becoming more and more recognized for its strength, diversity and ability to replace other conventional construction materials such as steel and concrete.
The title of the tallest wooden building was previously held by a building in Vancouver, Canada. Mjøstårnet beats out the Canadian building by over 30 meters.
Image borrowed from Design Build Network.
One Thousand Museum, Miami
A high rise condo building in Miami may not sound like something that should be on a list of amazing builds. But, take a look at it and you’ll understand why.
Image borrowed from Miami Residential Group.
Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid, this condo sits across from Museum Park on Biscayne Boulevard. Hadid won the Pritzker Prize in 2004 and was the first woman to be honored with the title.
The 62-story skyscraper condo features a helipad and private aquatic center. The building showcases a beautiful exoskeleton-type structure made of 5,000 pieces of glass-fiber-reinforced concrete to keep it standing. The exoskeleton makeup reduced the need for columns in the interior of the building, making for unique condo spaces.
Plaza Construction had the honor of completing the build and has dealt with a variety of other high-profile projects from the residential and commercial to the entertainment industry.
Winsun 3D Printed Sea Wall
3D printing continues to challenge the standards in the construction world and redefine project possibilities. China just completed the world’s largest 3d printed structure – a sea wall in Suzhou which stands at over 500 meters long.
Image borrowed from Winsun 3D Builders.
3D printing has been growing in popularity in construction since it can help to reduce waste, decrease building time and is more environmentally and budget-friendly. Of course, the ability to use 3D printing technology depends entirely on the specific project.
Suzhou has been revitalizing itself from an old mining town into a tourist destination. Old mines have been transformed into green spaces and the river became the focus of a revitalization project. Using 3D print technology to build an eco-friendly riverbank reinforcement structure allowed the city to work directly with the makeup of the existing river. The wall helps the land maintain its structure by fitting in with it while traditional reinforcement techniques often interrupt the ecosystem. Maybe eco-building for rivers and lakes is another construction sphere where 3D printing will change the game.
Image borrowed from Futurism.
The International Space Station
Soaring through the sky 408km above our heads, the International Space Station isn’t often considered when looking at amazing construction projects. Although it’s technically not on our planet, it is still worth the attention.
Our interest in outer space is growing and the possibilities of building on other planets and in space becoming more real. Even Caterpillar is helping NASA build a space future by developing technology that will help astronauts build on Mars. it may be time for the construction industry to start paying attention to all the space above our heads.
The International Space Station – ISS – was built in stages with the help of 15 countries. The first section of the station was launched in 1998 when a control module was launched in a Russian rocket. Two weeks later, a space shuttle called Endeavor met with the Russian rocket – Zarya – in orbit. A crew attached the control module to a Unity node that was in the American rocket. Over the next two years, more pieces were added until it was considered inhabitable. The International Space Station was born.
The ISS takes modular construction to a whole new level. Pieces were constructed on earth, loaded into a spaceship and sent out to space. The complete construction of the space station took place from 1998 to 2011 and included over 18 different launches.
Living quarters of NASA astronaut Scott Kelly in 2015. Image borrowed from NASA.
The living and working space on the ISS is larger than a six-bedroom house. It even has a gym! It can house a crew of 6 people, plus any visitors, and has an international crew onboard working at all times. Including the solar panels, the International Space Station covers the space of a football field, including the end zones.
Image borrowed from NASA.
The creation of space-specific tools, of adapting to use while wearing a spacesuit, and even the creation of the Canadarm – a crane-type machine that allows for construction in a way far more complex than any typical crane or life on earth – indicate the level of technology and adaptation needed to make space construction possible. It’s incredible to think about the level of technology needed in the early 2000s to make the International Space Station possible. It makes the possibilities of on-earth Construction Tech seem even vaster.
We often say that construction is the industry that builds our world. It might sound obvious, but the deeper connection is there – the way we build, how projects look and the technologies that go into building new projects shape our planet. The more care, time and creativity that goes into the construction process to make beautiful, green and unique buildings will ultimately do the same for our world.
These five examples of amazing construction projects around the world are a microscopic sample of the amazing projects around the world. What is your favorite construction project? Comment below and let us know.