“Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness”
Winston Churchill very articulately captured the true essence of any world monument.
While the following monuments do achieve that, they go a step further to setting new rules and records to cement a unique place for themselves. With a perfect blend of science, technology and a great deal of imagination, they will surely leave you awestruck.
A bridge that seems to float in air? Check
An elevator that spans across the entire length of a mountain? Check
Artificially designed palm shaped islands? Check
These monuments are not your typical fare by any means. So the next time you plan a trip, keep these places in mind and make sure you pay a quick visit to these marvellous feats of engineering!
1. Beijing National Stadium
Also known as Beijing’s Bird Nest Stadium, this metal megastructure is the largest enclosed space in the world alongwith being the largest steel structure in the world. Standing at an impressive 227 feet and built out of a massive 42,000 tonnes of steel, it posed several challenges during its construction. The first being whether or not it would be able to bear the weight of its own structure and stand without the 78 support pillars used during construction. Moreover, factors such as earthquake resistance and thermal expansion had to be kept in mind too. All of this coupled with features like a moving roof and mesmerizing lighting effects made it the centrepoint at Beijing Olympics 2008.
2. Millau Viaduct, France
With a design that takes a leap into the future, it was considered almost impossible to execute and is deigned one of the greatest achievements in architectural engineering. Desgined by engineer Michel Virlogeux and architect Norman Foster, the bridge stands as the tallest in the world with one of its masts spanning upto 343 metres above ground.
What make it unique is its design that utilizes 8 consecutive cable stayed spans, as opposed to the traditional suspension bridges. Alongwith leaving tourists spellbound by its unusual elegance and magnificence, the bridge incorporates clever technicalities such as accelerometers and anemometers that collect useful data which can be analysed for potential risks and wear and tear.
3. Bailong Elevator, China
Had you ever imagined that you could get from the base of a mountain to its top in just seconds? Well, Bailong Elevator in Zhangjiajie makes this a reality. Also known as the Hundred Dragons Elevator, it is touted as the highest and fastest outdoor elevator and is one of the most creative elevators in the world! This marvellous feat was accomplished in a mere 3 years and since 2002 has become one of the most revered tourist spot in China.
It can take passengers up from the base of a cliff to nearly 1070 feet high, all in a matter of 66 seconds. It consists of 3 parallel running elevators that can reach carry 50 passengers at a time. Certainly, this is one elevator that is not for the faint hearted, yet the journey from the base to the top is almost a miracle that should not be missed!
4. Palm Islands, Dubai
These artificially desgined islands take architectural creativity and advancements to an entirely new level. Situated in the Persian Gulf, this is a collection of 3 separate islands, namely, Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jebel Ali, and Palm Deira. Designed as a means of generating more tourism, the construction started back in 2001 and was completed a decade later.
The characteristic palm shape of the islands was proposed by Prime Minister HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and has now become one of the most luxurious tourist destinations with several resorts, villas and hotels. Over 32 million cubic meters of sand was reclaimed from the sea floor for its construction that added over 72 kms of coastline to the mainland. It truly is a wonderful creation, said to be visible even from space!
5. Venice Tide Barrier Project
Venice inspires hundreds of thousands of tourists to visit its romantic shorelines every year and revel in its beauty. However, it faced severe problems regarding water flooding a few decades back that spurred a debate on ways to curb the problem. Finally Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico or Electromechanical Experimental Module (MOSE) was agreed upon as a solution and the Venice Tide Barrier Project was conceived.
Constructed out of 23,000 tonnes of concrete, the system consists of inflatable flood gates which emerge out of water during high tides and create a temporary isolation. Around 80 gates, with each gate approximately 21 metres in width help block the inflow of water from 3 main inlets, that is, Lido, Malamocco and Chioggia inlets. Certainly, this is an extremely complex project that can benefit an entire city upon its completion.
6. Hadron Collider, Geneva
Built by the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), the largest single machine in the world is actually used to discover the secrets hidden amongst particles that are invisible to the naked eye. At its core, it uses extremely powerful magnets to generate an electromagnetic field that accelerates subatomic particles and drives them against one another.
It consists of a total of 1232 dipole and 392 quadrupole magnets, all of which help direct the high energy beams in the accelerator. It has helped answer several pressing questions in particle physics, such as the discovery of Higgs Boson, which is considered integral to the Standard Model of Physics. Its construction took nearly a decade (1998-2008) and involved thousands of scientists and engineers from across the world.
7. Langeled Pipeline
It seems almost impossible that a 1,166 kilometres long pipeline, transporting 26 billion cubic metres of natural gas could be constructed and laid down below sea level. Yet, this is what was achieved with the Langled Pipeline Project, Norway-England, that is one of the longest sub-sea level pipeline. Engineers faced challenges from all corners that made this project immensely complex. The uneven surface of the North Sea bed punctuated by ridges and trenches, the immense pressure of water 5 km below sea level, temperature conditions and environmental considerations were just a few problems that were overcome by the engineers of this project. The pipeline was built in 100,000 sections, all of which were laid down and then welded together to form the final line.
8. Burj Khalifa, Dubai
Sometimes all that glitters IS gold, and Burj Khalifa is one such wonder that deserves all the hype and recognition it receives. Constructed in a mere 6 years, the tallest building in the world stands at a mighty 2716.5 feet above ground, encompassing a total of 163 floors.
The design for the tower is inspired from the
Hymenocallis flower wherein the central core emerges in the form of a spire. It has a specially designed “buttressed core” system that supports the tower alongwith a cladding system that makes the heat of Dubai bearable. Truly, this architectural entity is a wonderful creation that merits a once in a lifetime visit!
9. Three Gorges Dam
Built on the Yangtze River, in Hubei province, China, this mega-project faced a number of problems before construction even began in 1994. While it is a marvel of engineering, it not only displaced atleast a million people but also led to the destruction of several rare architectural sites. Nevertheless, with its state of the art design, it is ranked as the world’s largest power station in terms of the installed capacity. Around 2335 metres long and constructed with enough steel to build 63 Eiffel Towers, this hydroelectric dam is a wondrous creation, made possible by the rapid advancements in architectural designs and technology.
10. Channel Tunnel
Frequently abbreviated as Chunnel, this has been recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which is perhaps the highest recognition for any monument. Its construction took nearly 6 years and cost a fortune at £4.65 billion, around 80% more than the estimated figure! It runs across 32 miles from Folkstone in England to Calais in France and accommodates both freight and passenger trains. Around 12,000 workers laboured day and night to turn this dream tunnel into a reality !
So what are you waiting for? Tap on to that wanderlust, pack your bags and set out on an adventure to discovering world architecture like this and more!