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A megaproject can be defined as a long term project that involves huge economic investment, vast complexity and precipitates a long-lasting impact on the economy, society and environment of the region in which it is being constructed. For profiles of five of the most startlingly expensive megaprojects currently in progress, see below:

#5 – Dubailand, UAE – $64 billion

Dubailand

When it was announced in 2003, at $64 billion, Dubailand was far and away the most ambitious and expensive leisure development ever proposed. Set to open in 2025, Dubailand plans to house everything from theme parks to science attractions to gargantuan hotels – the largest of which is purported to have 6500 rooms. It has been scaled down since its initial announcement; the recession has caused the funding for Dubailand to dip from $64 billion to $55 billion.

#4 – California High Speed Rail, USA – $68.4 billion

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By bestowing Californians with the ability to travel between Los Angeles and San Francisco in a mere 2 hours and 48 minutes, the state has hopes of generating hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in annual revenue. Estimates of funding for the construction of California’s very own bullet train have risen to as high as approximately $68.4 billion. This already enormous cost however, is likely to continue to increase. The Los Angeles Times have reported discrepancies between initial estimates and the actual cost of completing the project. For example, the construction of 119 miles of bullet train track in Central Valley was originally touted to cost $6 billion, but this number has since risen sharply to $10.6 billion.

#3 South – North Water Transfer Project, China – $78 billion

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The South-North Water Transfer Project is the one of the most ambitious feats of engineering ever undertaken. By circumventing water from the more abundant rivers of humid south and transporting it to the industrialised north, the government is aiming to prevent a water crisis from afflicting the country. However, the South-North Water Transfer Project has proved even more controversial than the Three Gorges Dam, which cost less than a third of the price of the former.

#2 Al Maktoum International Airport, Dubai, UAE – $82 billion

Al maktoum

Designed to bolster Dubai’s capacity to take passengers to 220 million, the Al Maktoum International Airport has been a costly investment for the Dubai government. If developments go as planned, it would make Al Maktoum the biggest airport in the world. As well as increasing the number of passengers the city is able to fly in and out, it also allows the airport to serve as a significant port – with over 12 million tonnes of freight being moved annually.

#1 International Space Station – $150 billion

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The International Space Station is indisputably the most expensive item ever constructed. While the project is framed as a collective effort between the world’s leading superpowers, the US/NASA bears the brunt of the exorbitant cost – contributing the lion’s share of $58 million towards the project over three decades. In 2010, the cost was estimated to be $150 billion, but it is expected to climb as staggeringly high as $1 trillion by 2020. The assembly of the ISS comprised over 40 individual missions, as each module joined the station one by one.

While megaprojects of this scale are rare in the UK, the construction of the HS2 railway, which is expected to cost close to £56 billion, began in 2017.

A commission to champion beautiful buildings as an integral part of the drive to build the homes communities need has been recently announced by the Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP.

The ‘Building Better, Building Beautiful’ Commission will develop a vision and practical measures to help ensure new developments meet the needs and expectations of communities, making them more likely to be welcomed rather than resisted.

This move follows the government recently rewriting the planning rulebook to strengthen expectations for design quality and community engagement when planning for development. The new rules also ensure more consideration can be given to the character of the local area.

This commission will take that work further by expanding on the ways in which the planning system can encourage and incentivise a greater emphasis on design, style and community consent. It will raise the level of debate regarding the importance of beauty in the built environment.

The commission has 3 aims:

  • To promote better design and style of homes, villages, towns and high streets, to reflect what communities want, building on the knowledge and tradition of what they know works for their area.
  • To explore how new settlements can be developed with greater community consent.
  • To make the planning system work in support of better design and style, not against it.

Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said “Most people agree we need to build more for future generations, but too many still feel that new homes in their local area just aren’t up to scratch.

“Part of making the housing market work for everyone is helping to ensure that what we build, is built to last. That it respects the integrity of our existing towns, villages and cities.

“This will become increasingly important as we look to create a number of new settlements across the country and invest in the infrastructure and technology they will need to be thriving and successful places.

“This commission will kick start a debate about the importance of design and style, helping develop practical ways of ensuring new developments gain the consent of communities, helping grow a sense of place, not undermine it. This will help deliver desperately needed homes – ultimately building better and beautiful will help us build more.”

Architecture is a very tangible example of creativity. You can see it with your eyes, touch its exterior, feel its fabric and walk its hallways. Music however is much more visceral art form. The notes and harmonies paint vivid pictures in your mind rather than in front of you. These landscapes are unique to you because music by its very nature is subjective. Imagine then, if you could hear architecture. The way a structure is perceived would immediately change and the landscape you perceive would be a perfect combination of the visceral and the tangible. This has been achieved with a restoration project in Croatia.

Following utter devastation to Zadar in Croatia during WWII, hasty reconstruction work was carried out soon after in an earnest attempt to rebuild the area. The result (as so often following WWII around the world) was a bland and uninspiring expanse of concrete. In this case, an unbroken, monotonous concrete wall along the seafront.

Architect Nikola Bašić decided to try something different and breathe life into the area as part of a project to redesign the new city coast, Nova Riva. On 15th April 2005 he opened a wind and wave powered organ to the public – the first of its kind. As waves break against the altered shoreline, the organ creates somewhat random but harmonic sounds.

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As wind and waves pass through the organ, notes are sounded at random. Pipes within the organ have been carefully tuned so as to only produce notes that harmonise well together, meaning that despite the unpredictability and spontaneous nature of this instrument/structure, the overall sound is always pleasing on the ear.

The sculpture is 230 feet long and comprises 35 organ pipes embedded within the concrete, which sound different notes as you walk along the promenade. The pipes are an intricate system of polyethylene tubes and resonating cavities which turn the site into a large musical instrument, played by the wind and the sea.

The Sea Organ (known locally as Morske Orgulje) has become somewhat of a tourist attraction, as well as drawing regulars from the surrounding areas to enjoy its song. Since its original opening, white marble steps leading down to the water have now been added, giving people somewhere to sit and gather their thoughts.

In 2006, the Sea Organ was awarded with the prize ex-aequo of the fourth edition of the European Prize for Urban Public Space.

Listen to the organ’s beautiful music below:

Whilst this is obviously a very special and unique concept, it perhaps raises the interesting idea that architecture can actually be multi-functional and appease more senses than just sight. We all live, work and play within the built environment. Wouldn’t it be interesting if as well as us interacting with our surroundings, our surroundings could also interact with us?

A city covered in one million plants and 40,000 trees will soon be built in China to help tackle the long-standing air pollution problem that plagues the country at present.

Designed by Italian architect Stefano Boeri (who was also behind the ‘Vertical Forest’ tower in Milan) the entirely fabricated metropolis will contain over 40,000 trees and one million plants.
At its heart, the scheme is intended to subvert the notion that urban areas are more prone to poor air quality, by introducing natural measures to absorb tons of CO2 and pollutants.

China has long been swamped with poor air quality. Studies show that over a million premature deaths are attributed to pollution in the country each year. Chinese power plants emit as much nitrogen oxides (NOx) as all the cars in the world combined.

In 2016, China declared red alert for air quality in the capital city of Beijing, closing schools and factories and removing 50% of cars from the road for a temporary period. This seems to have served as a wakeup call for the government, who have since introduced a series of measures aimed at curbing their alarming emissions. As well as championing renewables as a form of energy, the authorities are now looking at more innovative solutions. Could the ‘forest city’ be part of the solution to a worsening crisis?

The ‘forest city’ is planned to be built in Liuzhou, Southern China by 2020.

Here’s what it will look like:

A private company in Shanghai used 3D printers to print 10 full-sized houses in just one day.

Many believe 3D printing could a viable solution to alleviate slum housing in the world and provide shelter to disaster-stricken communities. Is 3D printing the future of construction?

The video shows a 3D printer creating a structure using a special material, comprised of recycled rubble, fibreglass, steel, cement and binder. Once pumped into place, the material takes just 24 hours to dry completely.

Behrokh Khoshnevis, a pioneer of 3D printing at the University of Southern California, who is currently working with NASA on 3D-printed lunar structures, believes that we could one day live and work in 3D printed cities. “I think in about five years you are going to see a lot of buildings built in this way.”

He also suggested that the innovative technology could help tackle a worldwide shortage of low-income housing. “I think it is a shame that at the dawn of the 21st century, about two billion people live in slums. I think this technology is a good solution.”

Watch the video below and see for yourself. How to you think 3D housing will affect the construction industry? Will its impact be good or bad? Let us know in the comments section below!

Driven by a growing population and intensifying urbanisation, the construction of high-rise buildings has increased considerably in recent years – more high-rise buildings are now being constructed than at any other time. Across the UK as a whole, there are currently over 270 existing high-rise buildings and structures, of which around 70% are in London. The UK has just 17 high-rise buildings over 150m (492ft.) in height and just one building – The Shard in London – over 300m.

High rise

Unlike other international cities, London is considered ‘low-rise’ for a global city and financial capital of the world; with the pace of high-rise development way behind other global cities. However, in recent years, there has been an increase in the number of high-rise buildings proposed and approved for construction in the UK. The UK development pipeline currently stands at around 500 buildings, of which over 85% are planned in London, while the rest are clustered in key cities such as Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Salford.

In terms of end-use sector, around 70% of high-rise buildings currently under construction or under consideration across the UK are primarily residential, but with an element of mixed-use, e.g. retail, community or leisure.

In London, the high-rise market is being driven by the buoyant private housing sector, especially at the top-end of the market, and resurgence in demand for commercial property. The concept of high rise living has changed and the majority of high-rise residential tower blocks in UK cities are now being developed as luxury accommodation, targeting a very different demographic and being developed with a mixed-use element incorporating leisure facilities, concierge services, restaurants and retail.

Key factors affecting the development of high-rise buildings include cost, space efficiency, wind & seismic considerations, structural safety, risk challenges both on site and in completed buildings, speed of elevators, new building materials to potentially replace steel and concrete and damping systems. In addition, significant technical and logistical factors include pumping and placing concrete at extreme heights, and craning and lifting items to extreme heights.

Hayley Thornley, Research Manager at AMA Research says “Going forward, the high-rise construction market is set to continue to grow, with the ever-increasing demand for housing. However, there are concerns about too many projects aimed at the luxury end of the market, which is not matched with housing demand. In addition, the uncertainties surrounding the EU referendum may influence some high-rise schemes, with many projects in the pipeline forecast to exceed stated completion dates.”

The proportion of mixed-use schemes in the high-rise buildings pipeline is set to grow, with around 18% of developments either under construction or proposed with a mixed-use function. In the office market, rising take-up, low availability of grade-A space and increasing rents in cities such as Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds and Edinburgh, is helping to boost output in the commercial office sector and has led to more speculative building.

Sustained growth in the private rented sector (PRS) is also driving the development of high-rise housing, with increasing financial backing from both domestic and foreign institutional investors. Student accommodation also forms a small, but significant proportion of high-rise building development with a number of schemes currently in planning.

From building a colossal pyramid over Tokyo Harbour to covering Manhattan with a giant dome, Planet Dolan list ten of the most shocking construction projects that almost happened!

GEZE UK is backing the very best in office architecture by sponsoring the Office Architect of the Year category in the BD Architect of the Year Awards for the third year running.

The category was open to all architects working on the design of offices including new developments and refurbishments.

Shortlisted candidates include:

  • Allford Hall
  • Monaghan Morris BDP
  • Cartwright Pickard
  • Emrys Architects
  • Gensler
  • LOM architecture and design
  • Piercy & Co

Entries showcase one project built in the last three years and another either built or unbuilt. Judges will be looking for evidence of all-round design excellence and fitness for purpose over a body of work in deciding the winner.

The ceremony for the awards – now in their 14th year – will take place on 18th April 2018 at Westminster Park Plaza Hotel, London.

Kaz Spiewakowski, managing director of GEZE UK said “We are very pleased to be sponsoring the awards for a third year. We understand that the quality, quantity and breadth of work across all categories this year is particularly high and we look forward to helping celebrate the very best in office architecture at the awards ceremony.”

For details of the awards see www.awards.bdonline.co.uk
For more information about GEZE UK’s comprehensive range of automatic and manual door closers call 01543 443000 or visit www.geze.co.uk