Concrete has always been a useful material, but as architecture and building design develops, it is becoming more and more the material of choice for a variety of structures and purposes.
From the traditional strength of a concrete dam, to the acoustic performance of a concrete concert hall, here we discuss some of the biggest, best and most innovative concrete buildings in the world.
Burj Khalifa, Dubai
The Burj Khalifa, previously known as the Buji Dubai, is not only the tallest skyscraper in Dubai, but is widely accepted as the world’s tallest manmade structure. It stands at 2,717-ft. (828 m) tall, and used over 45,000 cubic meters of concrete for the foundation, and a further 330,000 cubic meters for the construction of the tower itself. As a result, it also holds the record for the highest vertical concrete pumping, at 606 meters.
The construction of the building began in 2004, and finished 5 years later ready for the grand opening on 4th January 2010. The tower was designed and engineered by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill of Chicago, with Adrian Smith and Bill Baker, and has since become famous for not only being the tallest concrete structure in the world, but also for its overstated decadence.
Guggenheim Museum, New York
The impressive Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, in New York was created by the world-renowned architect, Mr Frank LLoyd Wright in 1959.
The art museum, located in Manhattan, in New York City, is the permanent home of an exceptional collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, as well as early Modern and contemporary art.
The building is instantly recognisable thanks to it’s unique the cylindrical shape. It was conceived as a “temple of the spirit,” and its unique ramp gallery extends from the ground in continuous spiral around the edges of the building, finishing just below a skylight in the ceiling.
The concrete construction has allowed the building to create a harmonious
effect, like an unbroken wave, with one floor flowing seamlessly into the next.
Causeway Bridge, Louisiana
The Causeway Bridge, over Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana, finished construction in 1956, and connected south sore to the developing north shore, allowing a more rapid expansion of the communities.
The bridge is actually made up of 2 parallel bridges crossing over the lake, with the longest bridge stretching to 23.83 miles long, earning its title as the world’s longest bridge, stretching over a an expanse of water.
The bridges are held up by more than 9000 concrete pilings, but is just 16 feet above the water level, so had to incorporate bascule to allow water traffic to pass beneath it.
Aside from being the longest overwater bridge, the colossal concrete structure also often makes it on to the world’s scariest bridges list, as at about 8 miles across, there is no land visibility in either direction.
The Grand Dixence, in Switzerland, is one of the biggest concrete structures in the world, and is certainly the world’s tallest dam, standing at 285 meters tall, and using 6 million cubic meters of concrete.
As a gravity dam, the material was carefully chosen, as it relies on the strength and weight of the concrete alone to hold back the pressure of more than 400 billion cubic meters of water.
But that’s not the dam’s only purpose; it also fuels 4 power stations with the hydroelectric energy it generates. In fact it creates so much energy, it is cable of powering up to 400,000 homes.
Konzerthaus Blaibach, Germany
One of our favourite modern concrete structures is the Konzerthaus Blaibach concert hall in Germany. The building looks like no other concrete hall, in that it is a simple concrete block, half-submerged in the ground.
The entrance is a concrete staircase, beneath the tilted block, and leads to an underground reception area, with a bar, before entering the concert hall itself. The architect of the building, Petel Haimerl, chose concrete for the construction as it provides the best acoustic effect for performances.
The hard, smooth surface of the concrete provides few spaces that the sound can be dampened, and carefully chosen shape, has resulted in pleated walls and ceilings, for the best possible sound.