Engineering marvel: record setting infrastructure for 2023

From dams to bridges to museums: the most spectacular works that will mark the new year

The deepest pool in the world, Deep Dive Dubai, set a new record of its kind: the pool allows divers to reach a depth of 60 meters, beating the 45 meters of the Warsaw’s Deep Spot and the 42,15 meters Y-40 Deep Joy in Montegrotto Terme, Italy. The United Arab Emirates are not new to these kind of records, such as the highest skyscrapers, hotels with the most stars, the biggest aquariums or the longest indoor skying slopes, even though their climate has little to do with snow. And 2022 was no different for several of the projects in the country.

In 2023, the challenge to build longer, larger, taller is back on, be it a bridge, a road, a railway, a dam, a luxury building, a desalinization plant, a tunnel or a theme park. The search for new technical solutions that go “beyond” requires experience and the courage to build in impenetrable areas or emergency situations and bring water, power and new hope and wellbeing to areas no one had ever tried to reach. Or to create sustainable mobility and development in a metropolis choked by traffic or depressed by the lack of basic services for entire neighborhoods. Or, even, using a creative and ingenious approach, to promote a country’s cultural heritage.

The seven great engineering marvels expected in 2023

Great projects and iconic infrastructure works will mark the year, reaching crucial development phases or completion. Here are some of them, in seven key segments of the construction industry.

Clean energy

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The dam will constitute Africa’s largest hydroelectric plant and support Ethiopia in its economic development and its goal to be “carbon neutral” by 2025. The power plant, built by Webuild, will have a capacity of 5,150 MW and an estimated yearly production of 15,700 Gwh. Located about 700 kilometers from the capital Addis Abeba, the plant required as many as 10.000 workers a year to be built. The Ethiopian government announced last June that 88 percent of the construction work on the dam has already been completed, and the country is looking forward to completing the construction by the end of 2023.

Vertical metropolis

Merdeka 118 Tower. The skyscraper, to be completed in the second half of 2023, will grace the skyline of Kuala Lumpur in Malesia, towering at 679 meters and 118 stories. A height that will earn it the title of second-tallest inhabited tower in the world after Dubai’s Burj Khalifa which, with its 829 meters has held the record for over 12 years. The Merdeka tower will have a vast mall at its base of about 1 million square feet of commercial space, a 1000 seat theater, offices, a hotel, and Southeast Asia’s highest observation deck.

Digital future

Samsung Semiconductor Factory. The Korean giant has announced the construction of a semiconductor plant north east of Austin, Texas. With an investment of 17 billion dollars, it will be one of the largest plants of its kind. The goal is to boost semiconductor production in the USA and speed global supply chains of chips, now concentrated in Taiwan and South Korea. Samsung’s Texan plant will speed up deliveries and shorten the supply chain for important markets, including the American one.

Crossing rivers

Braila’s bridge.  Set to cross the Danube in Romania, it will be Europe’s second longest suspended bridge. This highly complex engineering project, made by Webuild, is 1,975 meters long, with a central span 1,120 meters long. The bridge is sustained by two cables made of 18,000 intertwined steel ropes anchored to two 180 meters high towers, one on each bank of the river.  The cables weigh 6,775 tons, and if you lined up each steel rope you would reach a length of 38,000 kilometers, almost a trip around the world. The Braila bridge will significantly alter the area’s mobility, allowing the 7,000 vehicles that today cross the Danube with a 45 minute ferry ride to drive across in only 2 minutes.

Crossing mountains

The Brennero base tunnel. Part of a network of tunnels linking Italy and Austria, this 64 kilometers long dig will be the world’s longest railway tunnel.  Since its inception it was identified as one of the most important  infrastructure works in Europe and a key to the Scandinavia-Mediterranean European corridor. This year, the Lilia tunnel boring machine (TBM) is ready to carve one of the longest segments in Austria. It is the first of two mechanical diggers that will be used for the H41 Sill-Pfons section assigned to the construction group Webuild. Together with its twin sister Ida, with a milling head 10 meters in diameter, it will tackle the job of burrowing 8.2 kilometers across the mountain.  Webuild is also working on the Sotto attraversamento Isarco  and Mules 2-3 sections of the project and completed the Tulfes-Pfons section in Austria, in addition to the access tunnel between Fortezza e Ponte Gardena.

Culture and Design

The national library of Israel. After six years of construction, the new National Library opens the doors of its iconic building next to the Knesset, Jerusalem’s parliament. The elegant architectural complex, which includes a campus, gardens, exhibition locations, an auditorium and numerous educational areas for a total of 45,000 squared meters, is one of the largest buildings ever dedicated to reading. The books and other intellectual works are nestled in a vast central atrium, with a large glass wall that faces the Main Automated Stacks which, with its automated robotic state-of-the-art retrieval system, is an attraction in of itself. The characteristic upper volume of the building gives the impression of a sculpted stone, with the local calcareous stone mixed with cement to hint at Jerusalem’s historical colors.

Buildings for History

The Grand Egyptian Museum. After 1 billion dollars or work, the new museum enters 2023 as the new jewel of Egypt and one of the largest, most modern and most famous museums in the world. The building, just outside Cairo, on the Giza plateau near the pyramids, hosts some of the most precious objects of human history. The construction was severely delayed since its inception in 2002. One of the first treasures to be transferred to the new Grand Egyptian Museum was an enormous statue of Ramses II that 3200 year ago graced Ramses Square in central Cairo. When the collections now exhibited in the current Egyptian Museum and all the objects in its storage depots will be transferred to their new home, the Grand Egyptian Museum will host 100,000 archeological pieces, 4,549 of which from the tomb of the famous Tutankhamon.