25 Major Construction and Infrastructure Projects That Weren’t Here 25 Years Ago

To celebrate our 25 years of service to the electrical industry, we’ve picked 25 of the most interesting, impressive and astonishing building and infrastructure projects from around the world, that were not here when we started business.

We’ve witnessed some amazing mega-projects and feat of engineering in the past quarter of a century. As a company, we’ve been lucky enough to supply products to some of these projects, including The Channel Tunnel, Hong Kong International Airport, London Olympic Park and The Shard, helping to create engineering history.

Rungnado May Day Stadium

Rungnado May Day Stadium

1989 – North Korea

Completed on 1st May 1989, the Rungnado May Day Stadium is regarded as the largest stadium in the world with a staggering capacity of 150,000.Said to resemble a magnolia blossom, the exact details behind the construction and costs of the stadium are not known, due to the secretive nature of the North Korean Government.


Channel Tunnel

Channel Tunnel

1994 – UK/France

The Channel Tunnel, also known as the ‘Chunnel’ or Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL), is a 3.14 mile undersea rail tunnel linking Folkstone, Kent with Coquelles, near Calais. The tunnel posses the longest undersea portion of any tunnel in the world with 23.5 miles being underwater.Breaking through the final pieces of rock on 1st December 1990, it is the first time the UK and mainland Europe has been linked in the Ice Age.


Kansai International Airport

Kansai International Airport (KIX)

1994 – Japan

Designed to relieve overcrowding at the Osaka Airport, which could not be expanded due to the densely populated surrounding suburbs, the decision was made to build the airport on an artificial island.When built, Kansai airport became the first airport to be built on a man-made island. Not only was it a world first, but due to the high risk of earthquakes and typhoons, engineers had to come up with innovative preventative solutions, such as sliding joints.Not surprisingly the KIX airport was included in the “Civil Engineering Monument of the Millennium” award by the American Society of Civil Engineers.


Petronius Oil Platform

Petronius Oil Platform

1997 – Gulf Of Mexico

The Petronius is a deepwater compliant tower oil platform located 210km southeast of New Orleans, USA, operated by Chevron Corporation and Marathon Oil.It holds the record for the tallest oil-rig structure and was recognised as the tallest freestanding structure in the world until it was beaten by the Burj Khalifa in 2010 – Although this was debated as only 75 metres of the platform was above water.


Hong Kong International Airport

Hong Kong International Airport

1998 – Hong Kong

Commercially operational since 1998 and costing $20 billion, the airport is currently the world’s busiest cargo gateway and is one of the world’s busiest passenger airports.Similar to Kansai airport, Hong Kong international was built on an artificial island formed by levelling two neighbouring islands and reclaiming 9.38km2 of seabed. Covering 12.48km2 it increased Hong Kong’s total surface area by 1%.


Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

1998 – Japan

Costing around 500 million yen (£32 million), the Akashi Kaikyo bridge has the longest central span of any suspension bridge in the world at 1,991 metres. Due to the high risk of typhoons and earthquakes the bridge is designed to withstand wind of 178 mph and earthquakes measuring 8.5 on the Richter Scale.


Shoabia Power Desalination Plant

Shoabia Power and Desalination Plant

2001 – Saudi Arabia

Costing $850 million to build and with a installed capacity of 5,600 MW, the Shoabia plant is one of the world’s largest oil-fired CCGT power plant and the world’s third largest integrated water and power plants.


High Speed 1 HS1

High Speed 1

2003 – UK

Often called High Speed 1, HS1 or Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL), this high speed rail line stretches 67 miles between London and the UK side of the channel tunnel in Kent. Trains are able to reach speeds of up to 186mph on section 1 and 140mph on section two.HS1 was the first introduction of high-speed rail to the UK and with the much debated HS2 in the pipeline it might not be the last.


Langeled Pipeline

Langeled Pipeline

2003 – UK/Norway

The Langeled Pipeline, originally known as Britpipe, is an underwater pipeline which runs 725 miles from Nyhamna to Easington, transporting Norwegian natural gas to the UK.Apart from the obvious issues of laying a subsea pipeline, engineers had to take into account the subzero temperatures of the ocean floor as well as the proposed route of the pipe being home to some of the stormiest waters and strongest currents on the planet.From it’s opening, up until October 2011, the pipeline was the longest subsea pipeline in the world until it was surpassed by the Nord Stream pipe. Costing £1.7 billion the pipeline is responsible to transporting 20% of Britain’s peak gas demand.


Millaiu Viaduct

Millau Viaduct

2004 – France

Arguably one of the most striking projects from the list, the unmistakable Millau Viaduct is often considered one of the greatest engineering achievements of all time.Spanning the valley of the River Tarn, Southern France, one of the bridges masts stands at 343 metres above the base of the structure, 19 metres taller than the Eiffel Tower, making it the tallest bridge in the world. The Millau viaduct also holds the record for the highest road bridge deck in Europe.


Taipai 101

Taipai 101

2004 – Taiwan

The iconic design of the Taipai 101 skyscraper makes it easily recognisable and commonly used within travel literature and international media.However aside from the striking shape, Taipei 101 was the first building to break the half kilometre in height mark and was officially ranked as the worlds tallest building until it was surpassed by the Burj Khalifa.Taipai 101 also features great green credentials by being awarded the LEED platinum certification, the highest award in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. Making it the largest and tallest ‘green’ building in the world.


The Palm Jumeirah

Palm Jumeriah

2006 – Dubai, UAE

Dubai is known throughout the world as having some of the most impressive construction projects in recent history, the Palm Jumeriah one of these. More than just an artificial island, The Palm is an artificial archipelago and is the smallest of three planned islands called ‘Palm Islands’ consisting of the Palm Jumeriah, Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Deira.Shaped, unsurprisingly like a palm tree, the Jumeriah Palm is currently the largest artificial island in the world.


CAT Boston Big Dig

Central Artery/Tunnel Project (CA/T)

2007 – United States

Also known as the ‘Big Dig’, Boston’s Central Artery/Tunnel Project is a megaproject that rerouted Interstate 93 into a 3.5 mile tunnel. The CA/T project is the most expensive highway project in the US and took over 25 years, from planning to opening, costing $14.6 billion, almost 200% more than originally planned.


Heathrow Terminal 5 T5

Heathrow Terminal 5

2008 – UK

Opened in 2008, T5 is the largest free-standing structure within the UK and is designed to handle 35 million passengers per year. However the most impressive features of the Terminal are not in the building itself but in its integration of technology and self-service.With almost 100 self-service check-in kiosks, 90 check-in fast bag drops and a fleet of battery powered driverless ‘pods’ that ferry passengers along dedicated guideways. Terminal 5 is a vision for the future of airport terminals.


Burj Khalifa Dubai

Burj Khalifa

2010 – Dubai, UAE

No list of feats of engineering would be complete without mentioning the ground-breaking Burj Khalifa. Opening at the start of 2010, the skyscraper was conceived due to the desire for the Dubai economy to move away from an oil based economy to one focusing on tourism, and iconic projects like this were needed to build international recognition of the region.Currently standing as the worlds-tallest man-made structure at 829.8m beating it’s nearest competitor the KVLY TV mast by 201m, the tower has a whole host of other world records and awards, it truly is an iconic project and a testament to construction and engineering.


Alta Wind Energy Centre

Alta Wind Energy Centre

2010 – United States

The Alta wind farm is located in the Tehachapi Mountains is California, with an installed capacity of 1,320 MW it is the largest wind farm in the world. This is set to double to 3,000 MW due to a power purchase agreement with Southern California Edison. The project will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 5.2 million metric tons, which is the equivalent of taking over 400,000 cars of the road.


Beijing Shanghai High Speed Rail

Beijing – Shanghai High Speed Railway

2011 – China

Connecting two major economic zones within China, the Beijing-Shanghai railway is the longest high-speed railway ever constructed in a single phase. With a maximum speed of 186mph, the 811 mile journey takes 4 hours, 48 minutes to complete, compared to 9 hours, 49 minutes on the parallel conventional railway.The $32 billion high speed line also features the Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge and the Tianjin Grand Bridge which hold the record for the longest and second longest bridges in the world respectively.


Auga Caliente Solar Project

Auga Caliente Solar Project

2011 – United States

First commissioned in 2011, the Auga Caliente Solar Project is due to completed in 2014, when it will reach an installed capacity of 397 MW. Currently with 250 MW connected to the grid, it is the largest operational photovoltaic power plant in the world.The PV power plant is largest enough to power 100,000 average American homes.


Capital Gate

Capital Gate

2011 – Abu Dhabi, UAE

Capital Gate in Abu Dhabi is a skyscraper designed with a striking 18 degree lean. Standing at 160 metres tall, the unmistakable building holds the world record for the furthest leaning man-made tower, more than 4 times that of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.The immense gravitational pull caused by the 18 degree incline is countered by the steel reinforced concrete core being built slightly off centre, a technology called a ‘Pre-cambered core’. The structure is also anchored to the ground by 490 piles which are each drilled between 20 and 30 metres into the ground.


Three Gorges Dam

Three Gorges Dam

2012 – China

The Three Gorges is a hydroelectric dam that spans the Yangtze River in China. It is the world’s largest power station in terms of installed capacity with 22,500 MW. The dam itself stands 600 foot high and holds a massive 1.4 trillion cubic feet of water behind 100 million cubic feet of concrete.Although the dam caused a significant ecological changes, the Chinese Government regard the megaproject as a historic engineering, social and economic success, due to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and development of state of the art turbines.


Tokyo Skytree

Tokyo Skytree

2012 – Japan

The Skytree is a broadcasting, restaurant and observation tower in Tokyo, Japan. Building work was completed on the tower in 2012, topping out at 634m making it the world tallest tower and the second tallest structure after the Burj Khalifa.Due to Japan’s susceptibility to earthquakes, the tower had to include seismic proofing. For the Tokyo Skytree this comes in the form of the internal pillar is attached to the tower frame with oil dampers, which act as cushions during an earthquake, absorbing up to 50% of the energy from an earthquake.


The Share London Bridge

The Shard

2012 – UK

Also known as Shard of Glass or Shard London Bridge, The Shard is a 87 storey, 306 metre skyscraper in London. It is the tallest building in the European Union and is the second tallest free-standing structure in the United Kingdom.Featuring 11,000 panes of glass with a surface area of 56,000 square metres, The Shard features a sophisticated use of glazing with expressive facades of angled glass panes, intended to reflect the sky so the appearance of the building changes according to the weather and seasons.


London Olympic Park

London Olympic Park

2012 – UK

Built for the 2012 Olympic Games, the Stratford area of London was regenerated into the largest urban park built within Europe for 150 years.Engineering highlights include the aquatics centre, which was designed with removable ‘wings’ to accomodate the spectators during the games, but could be removed to reduce the capacity to 2,500 once the event had finished.Over 130km of power cables were laid in 6km of tunnels to power the park.


London Array Wind Farm

London Array

2013 – UK

Located in the Thames Estuary, the London Array is the world largest offshore wind farm with a nameplate capacity of 1000 MW.Costing £1.8 billion, the site consists of 341 3.6 MW turbines, two offshore substations, connected together with 130 miles of 33kV array cables, with the substations connected to mainland Britain by four 150kV subsea export cables.


New Century Global Centre

New Century Global Centre

2013 – China

The most recent project on the list, bringing us into 2013, the New Century Global Centre in Chengdu, China is recognised as the world’s largest freestanding building, capable of fitting 20 Sydney Opera Houses inside.With an astonishing 19 million sq. ft of usable space, the global centre contains shopping centres, water park, ice skating rink, a Mediterranean village and multiple hotels with a floor plan almost the size of Monaco.

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