This month we look at some of the record breaking and most amazing structures in concrete, from around the world.
1. Christ the Redeemer Rio di Janiero
Brazil’s famous statue of Christ the Redeemer is recognisable the world over, and is one of the greatest examples of using concrete in sculpture.
Finished in 1931, its reinforced concrete structure is the largest Art Deco style sculpture in the world, and famously stands at the summit of Mount Corcovado, above the megacity of Rio de Janeiro.
It stands 98 feet (30 metres) tall and it outstretched arms span 92 feet (28 metres).
The statue weights 635 metric tons.
2. Grande Dixence Dam, Switzerland
The first dam was built in Val des Dix as early as 1934. The current Grande Dixence was built between 1951 to 1965 and is the world’s highest gravity dam. It collects melting water from 35 Valaisian glaciers in the region surrounding Zermatt and leading up to Val d’Hérens.
It is 200 meters thick at the base, 695 meters long and 285 meters high and six million cubic meters of concrete were needed to build it.
The large reservoir holds 400 million cubic meters of water, which is channelled into the lake through 100 kilometers of tunnels.
3. The Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is a manmade 82km water way that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean. Designated as one of the "Seven Wonders of the Modern World’ by the American Society of Civil Engineers, it was finally opened in 1914, although work began in 1881.
It is 80km long and takes over 11 hours to pass through. It now has 3 lanes with 3 locks up and 3 locks down. The earth and rubble removed between the two ports at either end was enough to bury Manhattan to a depth of 12 feet. The total concrete used for the canal was 3822774.29 cubic meters.
4. Roman Pantheon
The Pantheon in Rome, Italy, is the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. 9,997,964 pounds of concrete were used in its construction.
Its actual construction date is uncertain but thought to be 113 to 125AD and built originally as a Roman temple by the Emperor Hadrian. It has been in continual use and is today a church.
The height to the oculus, the opening in the centre and main source of light, and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 142 feet (43 m).
5. The Burj Khalifa
A skyscraper located in Dubai, the Burj Khalifa is currently the tallest structure in the world. Standing at a total height of 829.8 metres (or 2,722 feet), it was designed by Adrian Smith, of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill whose firm designed the Willis Tower and One World Trade Center. Construction of the building began in 2004 and was completed in 2009, officially opened 4 January 2010.
With 163 floors and 57 elevators, it is a mixed –use building, both residential and commercial space, and also holds the record for the highest vertical pumping of concrete for a building at 606m, 1988ft.
The primary structure of this building is reinforced concrete, and used 330,000 m³ (431,600 yd³) of concrete. The project cost $1.5 billion USD.
6. The Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge
The Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge is the world’s longest bridge, spanning 102.4 miles (165 kilometers).
The bridge is located on the rail line between Shanghai and Nanjing in Eastern China and cost approximately $8.5 billion.
The bridge employed 10,000 workers and took 4 years, with completion in 2010. 2.3 million cubic metres of concrete were used in the construction, the equivalent to filling 3,800 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
7. The Three Gorges Dam
Located in Hubei province, China, the Three Gorges Dam spans the Yangtze River and is said to be the largest concrete dam in the world, containing 27.2×106 m3 (35.6×106 cubic yards) of concrete. The project began in December 1994 and opened in 2003, costing $37 billion to build.
This dam also currently holds the title of the “heaviest concrete structure’ with 144,309,356,753.51 pounds of concrete. The dam not only generates electricity but aids shipping capacity and helps with flood control.
8. Gotthard Base Tunnel
The Gotthard Base Tunnel is a railway tunnel that runs through the Swiss Alps. It opened in December 2016 and is the world’s longest and deepest traffic tunnel with a length of 57.09 km (35.5miles) and a maximum depth of 2,450 metres (8040 ft). It is a part of one of the largest environmental protection projects in Europe.
LafargeHolcim Ltd supplied 1.3 million m3 of high-tech concrete for various sections of the tunnel whilst 13,300,000 m3 (or 17,400,000 cu yd) of rock were extracted, which is the equivalent of 5 Giza pyramids.
It takes a passenger train 20 minutes to travel through the tunnel, from its north portal in Erstfeld to its south portal at Bodio.
And finally….. the largest concrete pour to date was carried out by Safari Group, Mazsaya Consulting Engineers, Oscar Construction Co. Ltd and CONMIX Ltd in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. The pour took place April 13th-16th 2017 and lasted 62 hours. 140 individual trucks poured 20,246m3 (26,480.76 yd3) of concrete for a new mall project. There were around 622 people on the job. Phew!
Where would we be without concrete?