The world’s biggest megaprojects are all staggering in scale, complexity and budget.
But while they’re all exceptional, some – quite literally – are out of this world. And while most have been beset by delays that have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, these six will inspire you.
International Space Station
The International Space Station (ISS) is the largest artificial object in space. It was created by a consortium of 15 nations and five space agencies
Its construction, a major project in space architecture, began in 1998 with a scheduled cost of more than US$60 billion.
The Space Station was taken into space piece by piece and gradually constructed in orbit 400 km above the earth’s surface. It has taken 40 missions to build and currently consists of 15 pressurised modules.
The ISS weighs almost 400 tonnes and covers an area as large as a football pitch. It circles the earth every 92 minutes at a speed of 28,000 km/h.
The crew of seven (at the time of writing) carry out long-term research, notably into human health.
The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is an energy project between 35 nations that’s currently under construction on a 180-hectare site in southern France.
The collaboration is building the world’s largest Tokamak, a magnetic fusion device. It has been designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy based on the same principle that powers the sun.
Thirty-nine buildings and technical areas house the ITER Tokamak and its plant systems. The heart of the facility – the Tokamak Building – is a seven-storey structure. It’s made of reinforced concrete that sits 13 metres below the platform level and 60 metres above.
Construction of the vast building, which began in 2013, required the development of 10 different types of concrete to shield workers from radiation. The US$20 billion centre is due to come online in 2025.
Al Maktoum International Airport, Dubai
The scale of Dubai’s Al Maktoum International Airport is extraordinary.
The facility, which extends over more than 34 square kilometres, is designed to handle 200 wide-body aircraft at a time. It’s expected to be able to handle 220 million passengers a year.
The airport’s second expansion phase alone has an estimated cost of more than US$32 billion.
It was originally scheduled for completion in 2018, but the latest expansion phase has no final completion date.
Chuo Shinkansen, Japan
Another of the biggest megaprojects in the world is Japan’s newest high-speed rail line.
The Chuo Shinkansen is being constructed in stages that began in December 2015. It will take travellers from Tokyo to Nagoya (286 kilometres) in just 40 minutes at speeds up to 505 km/h.
The driverless magnetic levitation (maglev) train is the fastest train in the world. Electromagnetic technology lifts the train’s cars about 10 centimetres above the tracks as it travels.
About 90% of the line is underground, requiring extensive tunnel construction. Phase 1 involves the construction of a 286 km superconductive maglev line, comprising 257 km of tunnels, 24 km of viaducts and 11 km of bridges. It incorporates six stations and a train depot.
The construction has been beset by delays, notably in one area where excavation is complex. This first phase, which is costing an estimated US$52 billion, was expected to be operational in 2027, but that date is now looking unlikely.
A later phase will extend the line to Osaka.
Great Garuda, Jakarta, Indonesia
Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, is the fastest-sinking city in the world. The metropolis of 36 million people, which is prone to flooding, is sinking at a rate of five to 10 centimetres a year.
Without a megaproject to protect it, the low-lying city could be submerged – and its entire population displaced – by 2050.
The National Capital Integrated Coastal Development (NCICD) Masterplan has an estimated cost of US$40 billion. It includes the construction of a massive 32-km sea wall, known as the Great Garuda, in the shape of the Indonesian mythical bird.
Construction of the sea wall has been started – and delayed many times – but completion is optimistically scheduled for 2025.
Strategic Master Plan, São Paulo, Brazil
Brazil’s biggest city is undergoing a megaproject facelift, the São Paulo Strategic Master Plan. It promotes sustainable and people-oriented development, including 717,000 new homes, wider pavements, dedicated cycle and bus lanes, plus the creation of numerous green spaces.
Approximately 1.2 million São Paulo residents live in favelas – concrete-and-iron shantytowns – or abandoned buildings downtown, called cortices.
According to the master plan, 240,000 of the new residential units will be designated as affordable. Completion is expected by 2030.
What we offer at KH Plant
At KH Plant, we don’t participate in the world’s biggest megaprojects – but we do help countless smaller firms and projects with reliable, affordable motor graders!
We specialise in restoring Caterpillar 140G, 140H and 140K motor graders and components to as-new condition – so you can get the benefits of a new motor grader at a fraction of the cost of a new machine. Contact us for more information or to discuss your needs.