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Top 5 Massive Construction Projects

The B1M | 4:19

Top 5 Massive Construction Projects

Fred Mills

30 March 2016

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SOME CONSTRUCTION projects are bigger than others… and these are bigger than most. Here we countdown some of the world’s largest and most awe-inspiring schemes, from 200 storey buildings and 30km bridges, to complex rail tunnels and super-sized airports. Enjoy!

RELATED: TOP 5 COOLEST SKYSCRAPERS

5 – KINGDOM TOWER, SAUDI ARABIA

First off is the USD $1.23BN Kingdom Tower (or Jeddah Tower) at the heart of Jeddah’s new Economic City in Saudi Arabia.

The building’s exact height is a closely guarded secret, but it is expected to be at least 1 kilometre high making it the first tower on earth to break that barrier and the world’s next tallest skyscraper. It will also be the first structure reach 200 storeys.

"The lifts will travel at 10 meters per second"

Above: Looking down upon the Kingdom Tower (image courtesy of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture).

Gaining access to the highest floors will require visitors and resident to travel across a series of elevators, as one single lift shaft and cable run to the top would not be possible. The lifts themselves will be able to travel at a staggering 10 meters per second. They could move faster, but the design team calculated that any greater rate in the change of air pressure as people are transported upwards would cause nausea. Those who can afford the apartments up on Level 200 will have to accept that a few extra seconds in the lift goes with the territory.

4 – PANAMA CANAL EXPANSION, PANAMA

The Panama Canal has been operating at capacity for some time with ships forced to queue on the Atlantic and Pacific sides respectively for entry.

The new USD $5.25BN expansion project will widen and deepen the existing channels whilst creating a new channel that’s 3.8 miles long.

Above: Expansion works to the Panama Canal (image courtesy of Canal De Panamá).

In all, the 11 year project due to complete in 2016 will have used 4.4 million cubic meters of concrete. Discover how BIM has played a role in the expansion works here.

3 – HONG KONG-ZHUHAI-MACAO BRIDGE, CHINA

How do you connect three cities separated by 50km of open water?

Well in the case of this project, a bridge and a tunnel are both viable options. The USD $10.6BN link from Hong Kong to Macao and Zhuhai starts with an initial section of bridge that spurs off from the city's airport and heads out into the Zhjiang River Estuary.

Above: The new bridge that links Hong Kong with Macao and Zhuhai (image courtesy of IABSE).

Off-shore it meets with a man-made island and dives into a section of tunnel under the sea, allowing ships to pass above it. Its then up again and onto a 29.6km stretch of bridge taking commuters over to Zhuhai and Macao without getting wet.

2 – BEIJING DAXING AIRPORT, CHINA

Beijing’s new international airport is currently being built on 2,680 hectares of land in the Daxing District, about 46km south of China’s capital city. The impressive main terminal building has been designed by Zaha Hadid and will create 7.5 million square feet of indoor space once completed.

Some of the 7.5 million square feet of space at Beijing's new airport (image courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects).

The total project is costing USD $13BN. From becoming operational in 2019, it will cater for up to 100 million passengers a year coming in and out across seven different runways.

Yes. Seven.

1 – CROSSRAIL, UNITED KINGDOM

In first place is the United Kingdom’s (UK) Crossrail; a project that connects London’s eastern and western Home Counties with an 85 mile railway through the city.

"At USD $20BN, Crossrail is Europe’s largest construction project"

That may sound a bit modest when compared to the other projects on this countdown, but tunneling under Europe’s economic capital and one of the largest and most historic cities in the world is no mean feat. To give you some idea of the level of technicality, one part of the route near Tottenham Court Road station passes over an existing Northern Line tunnel and under an existing escalator tunnel with less than one meters clearance each way. The project’s contractors affectionately named that ‘the eye of the needle’.

At USD $20BN, Crossrail is Europe’s largest construction project. Its works will pass through and affect 40 existing and new build stations across the south east of England.


One of Crossrail's eight tunnel boring machines. Each has a cutting head diameter of 7.1 meters (image courtesy of Crossrail).

Are you working on one of these vast projects? If so we would love to hear from you. You can get in contact with us here.

Images courtesy of Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill Architecture (Kingdom/Jeddah Tower, Saudi Arabia), Canal De Panamá (Panama Canal, Panama), Baycrest, IABSE and China Harbour Engineering Company (Hong Kong-Macao-Zhuhai Bridge, China), Zaha Hadid Architects (Beijing Daxing International Airport, China) and Crossrail and BBC (Crossrail, United Kingdom).

Data and project statistics sourced from Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill Architecture and Wall Street Journal (Kingdom/Jeddah Tower, Saudi Arabia), Canal De Panamá (Panama Canal, Panama), Arup Group and Wall Street Journal (Hong Kong-Macao-Zhuhai Bridge, China), Reuters and Huffington Post (Beijing Daxing International Airport, China) and Crossrail (Crossrail, United Kingdom).

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