On Engineers Day, we revisit some of the greatest engineering marvels of recent times that are a true testament to human ingenuity.
Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge, Japan
Highest rated among Japan’s contributions to the world of engineering is of course, the Akashi Kaikyo Suspension Bridge. A work of gigantic magnitude, it is the longest suspension bridge (roughly 12,800 feet) in the world that took 2 million workers and 10 years to construct. It took 181,000 tonnes of steel and 1.4 million cubic meters of concrete to make the four-mile bridge which links Awaji and Kobe. Because of the lights that adorn the bridge at night time (changing in the colour of the rainbow at every hour and in the colour of respective birthstones every half an hour), it is also known as the Pearl Bridge.
Bird’s Nest Stadium, China
In the winter of 2003, China started building a national stadium in preparation for olympics and completed it in March 2008. When it was finally unveiled, it stunned the world. It was a structure that was 333 meters long from north to south, 294 meters wide from east to west, the highest point at 68.5 meters and the lowest point at 42.8 meters. Not to mention, the largest steel structure in the world (with 110, 000 tonnes of the purest steel in the country) which cost China over $400 million. The hypnotic design, from the idea of a single thread wrapped round a ball, is said to be among the most complex stadiums ever constructed.
The Channel Tunnel, more popularly known as the Eurotunnel, connects England and France. It is the currently the longest under-sea rail tunnel in the world. Incredibly, the tunnel which spans 31.35 miles (most of which is underwater!), was constructed in just under six years! Now a major transport link, over seven million passengers a year make the journey on Eurostar trains.
Qinghai-Tibet Railway, China/Tibet
Generally considered the highest railway line in the world, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway is over 1,956 km (1,215 miles) long and took almost 100,000 workers to finish. A modern day engineering marvel, the railway line connects Xining in Qinghai Province with Lhasa in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) in China. At its highest point, the railway will reach 5,072m (16,640ft), and is built on bridges elevated above the most unstable permafrost.
Three Gorges Dam, Yangtze River, China
China, once again, makes the list and this time for the world’s largest concrete structure. At 600 feet high and a capacity to hold 1.4 trillion cubic feet or water behind 100 million cubic feet of concrete, the Three Gorges Dam, is the largest hydroelectric dam and is the largest hydroelectric power plant in the world. This engineering wonder across the Yangtze River, driving 26 giant turbines is said to eventually be able to provide as much as 10 per cent of China’s vast power needs.
Karakoram Highway, Pakistan/China
Connecting the China and Pakistan, the Karakoram highway took 20 years to build and in such hard conditions that 800 people succumbed in the process. An incredible feat of civil engineering, the highway is the highest paved road in the world. The road snakes through some of the highest mountains and glaciers, some even over 8,000 meters long. The road is over 800 miles long.
Burj Khalifa, Dubai
In 2010, 1,325 days after the beginning of excavation, Dubai become home to the tallest man-made structure in the world. At 828 metres (2,716.5 ft) tall, the 200-plus storey Burj Khalifa with 160 habitable levels became world-renowned upon completion, for not being the tallest building but also because the height proposed has never before been attempted. Khalifa also holds the record for the highest number of storeys in the world.