25 Most Interesting Engineering Designs Around the World

Here are some of the most interesting engineering decisions from around the globe.
Christopher McFadden

The world is surrounded by many mind-blowing structures which required well thought out engineering decisions. Here we will explore a few general examples of interesting engineering decisions, as well as, focussing on some specific examples. 

Please note that the following list is far from exhaustive and is in no particular order.


1. The AMC Connector cable-laying vessel is very interesting

interesting engineering cable laying
Source: Imgur

The laying of a submarine cable is not an easy task. The process requires the use of a specialized vessel to transport the submarine cable to the required destination.

Such vessels can transport up to 1,200 mile (2,000 km) length of cable. Upon reaching its destination, the ship lays the cable out on the seabed as instructed by the cable operator.

It can lay anywhere between 60-90 mile (100 - 150 km) of cable every day. This particular vessel is called the AMC Connector.

It is the world's largest cable-laying ship. The AMC Connector has been used to lay power cables and fiber optic cable. One cable was laid along a 60 mile (100 km) route between Dublin and Wales. 

2. The Lujiazui Pedestrian Bridge is basically a roundabout for people

interesting engineering bridge
Source: Zigomar/Wikimedia Commons

This roundabout can be used not only to clear congested streets, but also congested sidewalks. The Lujiazui Pedestrian Bridge sits almost 20 feet (6 meters) above the street level in the Pudong district of Shanghai.

The bridge allows pedestrians to stroll along a circular high line while avoiding the commotion of the daily traffic below. The "flyover" has become a must-see for tourists from all over the world and connects local workers to nearby leisure areas surrounded by cafes and shops. The Lujiazui Bridge also has several escalator stairway entrances and exits.

3. The Sidu River Bridge is very impressive indeed

interesting engineering sidu river bridge
Source: Glabb/Wikimedia Commons

China's Sidu River Bridge is a spectacular bridge that connects two mountaintops together. The bridge is located at the border of Yichang and En'shi in Hubei province. It connects Shanghai, on the pacific coast, to Chongqing and Chengdu on the west.

The bridge is one of the highest in the world, hanging approximately 1,600 vertigo-inducing feet (487 meters) above a breathtaking valley. It spans over 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) across the valley.

The bridge is so long that the builders needed to use a rocket to string the first pilot line across the gap.

Not only is the Sidu River Bridge extremely long, but it is also very safe. The bridge's massive suspension cables are capable of supporting over 43 million tons of weight each.

This is definitely adequate to support any number of vehicles making the journey across the bridge.

4. Copenhagen Airport's "Paper Plane" Terminal is awesome

interesting engineering airport
Source: Imgur

What better shape for an airport terminal than a paper plane?

Copenhagen Airport's Terminal 3 in Denmark was cleverly constructed to resemble a paper plane. In a normal year, the terminal sees more than 20 million people passing through it every year.

Frankly, the design choice is inspired, and can only really be appreciated from the air -- as it should be.  

4. Manhattan's largest apartment complex was built to house WW2 veterans

interesting engineering Peter Cooper Village
Source: Alec Jordan/Wikimedia Commons

Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village was constructed in the 1940s to house World War II veterans. The complex is located between 14th and 23rd streets, and from First Avenue to Avenue C, on Manhattan's east side.

The complex is made up of 110, red-brick apartment buildings. It houses around 27,500 residents in around 11,000 units. A third of the residents are in Peter Cooper Village while the rest are in Stuyvesant Town.

The apartment complex looks like a small town embedded into the larger city. It has its own grocers, a hardware store, a dry cleaner, a wine shop as well as a bunch of restaurants.

Furthermore, it has beautiful playgrounds and basketball courts. The complex also has its own public safety force as well as its own sanitation and snow removal. 

5. Brusio Spiral Viaduct in Switzerland will drive you round the bend

interesting engineerings Brusio viaduct
Source: Kabelleger/David Gubler via Wikipedia

The Brusio spiral viaduct is a single track arched stone spiral railway viaduct. This incredible railway viaduct can be seen in Brusio Switzerland in the Canton of Graubünden.

The viaduct was built to allow trains to gain elevation in a short distance. It is 360 feet (110 meters) long and has a horizontal radius of curvature of 229 feet (70 meters). The viaduct elevates the train by 65 feet (20 meters).

The Brusio spiral viaduct forms part of the Bernina Railway section between Brusio and Campascio. It was first opened on 1 July 1980 with the Tirano–Poschiavo section of the Bernina Railway.

6. The reconstruction of the Provo Tabernacle was very challenging

interesting engineering Provo Tabernacle
Source: White whirlwind/Wikimedia Commons

The Provo Tabernacle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah was originally constructed beginning in 1883. Tragedy struck when a four-alarm fire gutted the temple in 2010.

The church leaders decided to save the building, and two years later the church plans were approved. The structure was to be rebuilt as a larger temple.

The new Provo City Temple took 43 months to be completed. It was a complicated process as two levels of the basement had to be constructed below the remaining structure. A supporting structure was also built around the entire complex.

7. The Forth Bridge is an impressive piece of engineering

interesting engineering forth bridge
Source: Andrew Shiva/Wikimedia Commons

The Forth Bridge is a railway bridge which spans the estuary (Firth) of the River Forth in eastern Scotland. It links Fife to Edinburgh by railway and was the world's earliest great multi-span cantilever bridge when it opened in 1890.

The bridge spans 8,297 feet (2,529 meters) and is still one of the longest in the world. It is also, dare we say, one of the most attractive bridges in the world -- if you like that sort of thing. 

8. The Confederation Bridge is another interesting piece of engineering

interesting engineering confederation bridge
Source: Wladyslaw/Wikimedia Commons

The Confederation Bridge is one of Canada's top engineering achievements of the 20th century. It is an impressive 8 miles (12.9 kilometers) long and is considered the longest bridge in the world. The bridge carries the Trans-Canada Highway across the Northumberland Strait, linking the province of Prince Edward Island with the province New Brunswick on the mainland. 

9. The "Infinity Bridge" has a very bold design

interesting engineering infinity bridge
Source: Victoria Johnson/Wikimedia Commons

The "Infinity Bridge" is a beautifully constructed steel bridge that was designed as a bicycle and pedestrian bridge. It is 892 feet (272 meters) long and spans the Tees River in Stock-on-Tees, England.

The bridge was completed in May 2009 and took just under two years to be built.

The bridge was a major part of the North Shore Redevelopment Project which was driven by Tees Valley Regeneration. The entire project cost £15 million.

10. Chicago has more than its fair share of drawbridges

interesting engineering chicago
Wells Street bridge, Chicago. Source: JeremyA/Wikimedia Commons

Chicago's iron bridges connect the two ends of the city which lie on either side of the Chicago River. The city is made up of a whopping 29 operating movable bridges. Although it does not beat Amsterdam's bridge total, it does come second.

Chicago is also known as the drawbridge capital of the world since it is the only city that has experimented with so many movable drawbridge designs. The city tested multiple bridge designs and finally settled on the Chicago-style bascule bridge.

The bascule uses a counterweight that continuously balances a span, or leaf, throughout its upward swing to provide clearance for boat traffic.

The Chicago bridges have been one key to the city's successful development as they helped to make the city a transportation hub by ensuring that boat and train traffic could get through and allowed the city to expand. 

Chicago's bridges have also helped connect the city's diverse mix of people, cultures, and neighborhoods. 

11. Guangzhou Rail Yard has a lot of bullet trains

interesting engineering trains
Source: Imgur

The Guangzhou Train Station is located in the city of Guangzhou, China. The station is one of the biggest stations in China. It is also one of the busiest railway stations in Southern China and is known for its notorious safety.

The Guangzhou Train Station is used for long-distance slow travel, metro travel as well as quick trips to Hong Kong or Shenzhen.

China's popular Bullet Train can be taken from Guangzhou station. There are four bullet train stations in Guangzhou.

The station's C-class train is great for quick access to and from the west-central Guangzhou area as well as the southern part of Shenzhen and Hong Kong. 

12. Nuremberg's main rail station resembles a river

interesting engineering nuremburg
Source: u/caeppers/Reddit

Nuremberg's main station is a regional transport hub to many major places in Germany such as Munich, Leipzig, and Frankfurt. The Nuremberg railway yard is therefore very busy and resembles a river with all its inflows.

13. The SOO railroad turntable in Minneapolis is a classic piece of engineering

interesting engineering SOO
Source: Imgur

During the steam era, a turntable was a very important device that could be found in most terminals. The turntable was used to turn locomotives in the required direction.

The idea of the turntable was to easily spin the locomotive in the required direction without the need for a large space. In the above image, at the SOO Railroad turntable in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the locomotives wait in line to be turned to face the required direction. 

14. The New Croton Dam is a thing of beauty

interesting engineering New Croton Dam
Source: Acroterion/Wikimedia Commons

The New Croton Dam is an impressive structure with a beautiful, waterfall-like spillway. The dam is located in Croton Gorge Park in Cortlandt Manor, New York. The dam includes a large retaining wall and an aerial bridge.

Its bridge allows observers to get a close-up view of the dam's rushing water.

The Old Croton Dam was originally built in 1842 across the Croton River. It supplied water to Manhattan through a 41-mile (65 km) underground aqueduct. Around the 1880s, the residents of New York City realized that their water requirements had increased.

Hence the construction of the New Croton Dam began in the early 1890s. The 'new' dam was completed in 1906.

The New Croton Dam is a perfect location for a family outing or a romantic date. The dam is an incredibly interesting engineering decision and a sight not to be missed. 

15. Orlando International Airport looks like an alien lifeform

interesting engineering Orlando airport
Source: Google Maps

A bird's eye view of  Orlando International Airport resembles a creature out of the film Men In Black (MIB). The airport is a central hub for commuters traveling through Orlando. According to statistics published in June 2016, the airport serves approximately 40 million passengers annually.

It appears as if Orlando International Airport's commuters are not afraid of this alien-like architecture. 

16. Check out this 120-foot steel beam being towed

interesting engineering virginia
Source: Imgur

What's the longest object you've ever seen being transported by a tow truck?

A driver came across this giant steel beam which was being transported by a tow truck by Roanoke, Virginia. The driver inquired about the beam and discovery that it was 120 feet (36 meters) long.

The beam was destined for West Virginia, where it would be used for a bridge over a ravine.

Being this long, it was not an easy item to transport. According to the tow truck driver, things become particularly difficult when driving up a dirt road.

Not only was the actual road a challenge, but it was carved out of the side of a mountain. 

17. The Union Pacific Bailey Yard is a very busy place

interesting engineering Union Pacific
Source: Zeroxysm/Wikimedia Commons

The Union Pacific Railroad's Bailey Yard is located in North Platte, Nebraska. It is the longest railroad classification yard in the world. It covers 2,850 acres and is 8 miles (12 km) in total length.

The yard has enough space to fit 2,800 football fields.

The Bailey Yard was named in honor of the former President of Union Pacific, President Edd H. Bailey. It handles approximately 10,000 railroad cars every 24 hours. As a result of the large number of cars coming in daily, the yard employs approximately 2600 employees. 

18. Turbine Interchange in Lummen, Belgium is very fittingly named

interesting engineering turbine exchange
Source: u/jomme/Reddit

The Turbine Interchange is located in Lummen Belgium. Its name is very fitting, and is best represented when the bridge is viewed at night from the air. Finished in 2012, this new interchange has virtually eliminated traffic jams and accidents at what used to be a major black spot on the Belgian highway network.

19. Munich Subway is a very popular place

interesting engineering munich
 Source: FloSch/Wikimedia Commons

A step into Munich's subway combines functionality with stunning designBy playing with colors and dazzling forms, adding a host of decorative elements, and opening many of the stations up to daylight, local architects inspired a new generation of subway stations. It is very popular among commuters and is currently being used by over 300,000 passengers daily. 

20. Amundsen - Scott South Pole Station was built in the 1950s

interesting engineering polar station
Source: Daniel Leussler/Wikimedia Commons

The first American South Pole Station was completed in 1957. It was named Amundsen - Scott in honor of Roald Amundsen and Robert F. Scott, who reached the South Pole in 1911 and 1912. The station has been upgraded several times since and is an innovative structure.

21. Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange looks a bit like a spiderweb

interesting engineering Judge Harry
Source: Remi Jouan/Wikimedia Commons

The Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange connects the 110 and 105 interchanges in Los Angeles, California. The 130-foot (just under 40 meters) high stack interchange resembles a spiderweb from a bird's eye view and offers its drivers a breathtaking view of South Los Angeles.

The interchange is named after Judge Harry Pregerson, who helped ensure that the community affected by the freeway received jobs, housing, and other services. Pregerson ended his active service on the court at the age of 92. He served as a Los Angeles-based judge for 50 years. 

22. The Netherlands Aqueduct system is an incredible piece of engineering

interesting engineering netherlands
Source: Imgur

Dutch engineers are renowned for their skills in reclaiming land from the sea. This is important, as one-third of the Netherlands lies below the mean sea level. Without the dunes, dikes, and pumps, approximately 65% of the country would be underwater at high tide.

The Aqueduct Veluwemeer is a marvelous piece of engineering and a perfect example of land reclaiming. It lies over the N302 road near Harderwijk, in the eastern Netherlands. Furthermore, it is located under a small part of the lake Veluwemeer.

The Aqueduct Veluwemeer connects the mainland Netherlands to Flevoland, which is the largest artificial island in the world. The aqueduct is 62 feet (19 meters) wide and 82 feet (25 meters) long.

It has a water depth of 9 feet (3 meters) which permits small boats to pass through. The aqueduct was opened to traffic in 2002 and allows approximately 28,000 vehicles to cross-over daily.

23. The Falkirk Wheel Boat Elevator is something of a work of art

interesting engineering Falkirk
Source: johnmcgrevey/Pixabay

There are two ways to transport a boat between water at two different elevations. The first method is to use locks and is commonly used on rivers and canal waterways. The second method is by physically lifting the boat from one waterway and placing it onto the other.

The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift that uses the latter method. The wheel is situated near the town of Falkirk, Scotland, and is the only rotating boat lift of its kind in the world. The Falkirk Wheel is regarded as an engineering marvel for Scotland.

The 114 foot (35 metertall boat lift connects the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. These were once connected by a series of 11 locks that stepped down over a distance of 0.9 miles (1.5 km). The boat lift is now able to carry eight or more boats at a time in a single trip. It takes approximately 60 minutes for a complete trip.

24. Basketweave interchanges really do live up to their names

interesting engineering basketweave
Source: Imgur

A basketweave interchange is often found on highways and is made up of multiple lanes. The idea behind a basketweave is that one highway is able to interchange with itself by allowing traffic traveling in the same direction to switch between carriageways using flyovers and under ramps. Thereby allowing traffic, which is traveling in the same direction, to switch between carriageways without weaving. 

25. Tokyo Bay Aqualine

interesting engineering tokyo aquiline
Source: Hideyuki KAMON/Wikimedia Commons

The Tokyo Bay Aqualine is a 9.3 mile (15.1 km) marine crossing which passes directly through the middle of Tokyo Bay. Also known as the Trans-Tokyo Bay Highway, the aquiline connects Kawasaki City, in Kanagawa Prefecture, to Kisarazu City, in Chiba Prefecture on the Boso Peninsular.

The journey from Kawasaki to Kisarazu now takes a mere 15 minutes. This is vital from an economic perspective, as both areas are of major industrial importance.

The aquiline was eventually opened to traffic in December 1997 after taking 31 years in total for the research and construction process. The total cost of the motorway was 1.44 trillion yen, which equates to around 12,929 million dollars.

The Tokyo Bay Aqualine includes a 5.9 mile (9.5 km) shield tunnel and a 2,7 mile (4.4 km) bridge between an artificial island and the Kisarazu landing.

The Aqualine's tunnel diameter is considered the world's largest diameter for an underwater vehicle shield tunnel. The outer cross-section diameter is 45 feet (13.9 m) while the inner diameter is 39 feet (11.9 m). This diameter allows two traffic lanes in both directions.

And that, as they say, is a wrap. 

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