Great Engineering Feats

 

A look at the world of giant engineering

Burj Khalifa

At 828m tall, the Dubai skyscraper is the tallest structure in the world. When you consider that Ireland’s tallest mountain, Carrountoohil is 1,038m, it gives you an idea of just how big that is. It was completed in 2009.

163:number of floors in the Burj Khalifa

Dubai’s The World

One of the most ambitious ideas to come out of the building boom in Dubai, this is a map of the world, created out of manmade islands 4km off the coast. 321 million cubic metres of sand have been used. How many of the islands are occupied? One. Construction has been halted by the global recession.

Large Hadron Collider

It’s an atom smasher, being used to create the conditions of the universe just after the Big Bang, and at 27km in circumference crosses between France and Switzerland. It was created with the help of over 10,000 scientists and engineers in 100 countries.

290m:height of Ireland’s tallest structure, the Tullamore radio mast

International Space Station

They began working on it in 1998 and it will finally be finished this year - and the football pitch-sized structure would be impressive enough if it wasn’t that much of it was assembled about 300km above the Earth. Amazing fact: the astronauts aren’t entirely weightless, but experiencing microgravity from the Earth.

Kingda Ka

In the Six Flags Theme Park, New Jersey, this is the world’s largest rollercoaster - 139m high with a fastest speed of 128mph. It was hit by lightning in 2009, and had to be closed for a while as a result. Get a front row view at url.ie/9502

165km:length of Dabyan Kunshan Bridge in China - the world’s longest bridge

The Pyramids

There are 138 of them (that we know of anyway), with most built as tombs for the Pharaohs. The Pyramids at Giza are the only survivors of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and we’re still not sure how these massive structures were built although they may have taken 10,000 people 30 years to build just one.

17-storeys:height of Ireland’s tallest building, the Elysian in Cork

The Millau Viaduct is the highest bridge in the world, reaching over 300m across the Tarn valley in France. It means that it often sits above the clouds as it carries traffic for 2.5km.

The Great Wall of China

First amazing fact - it’s not the only man-made structure visible from space. And it’s pretty hard to see from up there anyway. But it’s still impressive. Stretching 8,800km across China, it was started in 400BC and then added to over the next 2,000 years. Even Ireland’s motorways didn’t take that long to build.

Panama canal

The canal is only 77km long, but it saves a journey of thousands of kilometres by creating a link between the Atlantic and Pacific. It was built between 1904-1914 by the US, although the French had previously had a go. 15,000 ships pass through each year.

The Bailong Elevator

It’s the world’s tallest exterior elevator travelling 330m up on a cliff, giving tourists a scary but impressive view of the valley below. It also set a world record as the fastest passenger elevator. Look up “Bailong Elevator” on YouTube to see it in action.

Brú na Bóinne

The passage tombs of Newgrange, Nowth and Dowth in Co Meath were engineering wonder of their age, and are older than the Pyramids. Some of the stone at Newgrange came from many miles away, and the slabbed roof kept the chamber dry for 5,000 years until it was accidentally discovered in the 17th century.

Channel Tunnel

Building a rail tunnel through land is one thing, but building it under the sea is a whole other challenge. At 38km long, from London to Paris, it the longest undersea tunnel in the world, and is 75m down at its deepest. It opened in 1994, although the idea was first suggested in 1802.

Gotthard Base Tunnel

Over 150km long, this rail tunnel beneath the Swiss Alps will be the longest of its kind once it’s finished. This year, they’ll have dug over 99 per cent of the way, with 30m a day being excavated (on a good day.


The Millau Viaductis the highest bridge in the world, reaching over 300m across the Tarn valley in France. Itmeans that it often sits above the clouds as it carries traffic for 2.5km.

Aviva Stadium

Perhaps the most famous new building in Ireland is the Aviva Stadium on Lansdowne Road, which holds 51,000 people. It took four million work hours to build and cost €410 million. It’s highest point is 47m above the pitch. However, it’s small compared to Croke Park which, with a capacity of 82,300, is the fourth largest stadium in Europe

The Empire State

One of the most famous buildings in the world, the Empire State Buildingwas the world’s tallest for 40 years until 1972. It has 102 floors and was built during the Great Depression, meaning that when it opened in 1929, much of its offices remained empty. Since the collapse of the World Trade Center towers it is again New York’s tallest building. Among its other records is that set by an elevator operator working on the day in 1945 that a plane crashed into the building - she survived a 75 floor plunge.