When you think of the world’s mega structures, China, Japan, and Abu Dabi are the places you would expect to host the biggest and gaudiest. But Europe too holds its fair share of engineering marvels. Here are five worth knowing about.
Train a Grande Vitesse
The French TGV holds the world’s second place for fastest single speed train, and fastest commercial speed to two different rail lines. Surely that means it averages out to be first? First developed in the 1970s, TGV trains have reached tops of 574.5km/h, but only (only?) 320km/h on its regular runs. Bigger curves and deeper ballasts for stability allow this mega structure to go at such a high speed, but the main engineering achievement how comfortable the ride is. Continuous rails instead of shorter joint rails, and “moveable point frogs” that allow trains to switch tracks with imperceptible vibrations make a ride on the TGV just as smooth as any other train line.
Boasting suits for around 100 guests, Sweeden’s Ice Hotel is certainly the world’s most unusual mega structure. Built, as you’ve probably guessed, entirely out of ice, the hotel stands each year from December until April when it slowly melts back into waters. This mega structure also one of the world’s most ornate, with artists competing internationally for a rare opportunity to hand craft a room, or design one of the astonishing ice sculptures that adorn the hotel’s foyer. Visitors better dress warm, as even the hotel’s furniture is made from ice. All up, the hotel uses 10 000 tons of ice, and 30 000 tons of snow and features a bar, main hall , reception and even a church, in case you wanted to pray for a warmer room.
At 540m tall, the Oskantino Radio and Television Tower was the world’s first tower to reach 500m in height, remaining the tallest tower in Europe for 46 years. Extensive use of prepressed concrete allowed the tower to reach its gargantuan height. This mega structure has caught fire several times, but that hasn’t stopped the tower from being a popular base-jumping site. Internationally, the tower has now been surpassed in height, and tragically a plan to extend it by adding antennae fell through from lack of funding.
Charles de Gaulle Airport
With over 62 million passengers passing through each year, Charles de Gaulle airport in France is the largest aviation center in Europe. Terminal 1, the airports centerpiece, was designed by architect Paul Andrea to resemble the shape of an octopus. With the sheer tons of concrete the airport took to build, you can only hope they had construction equipment the likes of which you might find at hyundai-ce.com.au. The airport is so big, it even has its own light rail system to allow passengers to travel from one terminal to another.
The Reichstag building is a structure created to house the imperial diet in 1894. The Reichstag would just be another historical building, if it was not for the Reichstag Dome, a large glass bubble on top of the building offering a 360 degree view of Berlin. A reflective cone at the centre of the dome channels sunlight into the building, creating a new spin on the idea of the glowing interior. The Reichstag dome was built to celebrate the reunification of Germany, but the structure itself is so impressive it would be worth reunifying just to cause its construction.