Engineering Genius: 5 modern day examples

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The Palm, Dubai

The largest man-made set of islands and a massively innovative and bold engineering feat, the Palm Islands consist of three artificial islands: Palm Jumeriah, Deira Island and Palm Jebel Ali.

The primary objective behind the construction of the Palm Islands was to compensate for a decrease in revenue from oil by creating a major tourist destination in Dubai.

The numbers:

210 million cubic metres of rock, sand and limestone were used, including millions of cubic metres of rock from 16 quarries from around Dubai, and 94 million cubic metres of sands from deep sea beds 6 nautical miles off the coast.  These materials would be enough to build a wall that could circle the world 3 times.

Construction of the islands was completed in a mere four years.

Some 40,000 workers were hired for the actual construction work on top of the island, working 12 hour shifts.

All up Palm Islands includes 5,000 waterfront apartments, 4,000 residential villas, 1,000 water homes and 60 luxury hotels as well as a number of marinas, health spas, shopping malls, restaurants, cinemas, sports facilities and dive sites.

The challenges:

Waves up to 2 metres high and the constant motion of the sea creates a unique and challenging construction environment.  To minimise movement, wave blockers were built all around the palm island: 3 meters high and 160 kilometers in total length.

Potential liquefaction of the sand, due to movement of rocks and sand below the surface and possible earthquakes posed a significant challenge.  Liquefaction occurs when water pushes up between loose sand particles, liquefying the ground, causing the island to sink into the sea.  Vibro-compaction methods were used to compact over 2000 holes with vibrating probes.

Sea divers continually monitored foundations and marine life throughout the construction process.