Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Langkawi Sky Bridge

Langkawi sky-bridge in Malaysia is suspended at 700 metres above sea level. This unique curved pedestrian bridge spans 125 metres across a spectacular chasm. The view from the bridge is simply breathtaking. You'd be able to view the Andaman Sea and Thailand’s Tarutao Island as well.

The 1.8m-wide bridge had two 3.6m-wide triangular platforms that provided a spectacular viewing-cum-resting area for visitors.

Unlike straight bridges where you can see from the starting point, the bridge has been curved to provide different perspectives over the land and sea. Convenient triangular platforms located along the curved bridge provide rest areas so you can sit and appreciate both the beauty of nature and an incredible feat of engineering. Langkawi sky-bridge is safe.

Considerable thought was invested to provide visitors with a psychological feeling of security. They include a double steel railing at upper body level as well as an enclosed wire mesh and timber parapet below.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Ghost town - Hashima Island, Gunkanjima, Japan

Hashima Island (meaning "Border Island"), commonly called Gunkanjima (meaning "Battleship Island") is one among 505 uninhabited islands in the Nagasaki Prefecture about 15 kilometers from Nagasaki itself. The island was populated from 1887 to 1974 as a coal mining facility. The island's most notable features are the abandoned concrete buildings and the sea wall surrounding it.

"Battleship Island" is an English translation of the Japanese nickname for Hashima Island, Gunkanjima. The island's nickname came from its apparent resemblance to a battleship, or gunkan (jima is a mutation of shima) due to its high sea-walls. It also is known as the Ghost Island. It is known for its coal mines and their operation during the industrialization of Japan. Mitsubishi bought the island in 1890 and began the project, the aim of which was retrieving coal from the bottom of the sea. They built Japan's first large concrete building, a block of apartments in 1916 to accommodate their burgeoning ranks of workers, and to protect against typhoon destruction.

In 1959, its population density was 835 people per hectare (83,500 people/km^2) for the whole island, or 1,391 per hectare (139,100 people/km^2) for the residential district, one of the highest population density ever recorded worldwide. As petroleum replaced coal in Japan in the 1960s, coal mines began shutting down all over the country, and Hashima's mines were no exception. Mitsubishi officially announced the closing of the mine in 1974, and today it is empty and bare, which is why it's called the Ghost Island. Travel to Hashima is currently prohibited.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ghost town - Kadykchan, Russia

Kadykchan, The City of Broken Dreams

No, this isn’t Chernobyl and there isn’t any dangerous radioactive background or toxic pollution. You can even live in this town… but there is no reason for. This place has become absolutely useless after the collapse of the USSR, like many other Soviet industrial settlements.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Megastructures - Hoover Dam

History Construction of Hoover Dam began in 1931, and the last concrete was poured in 1935 , two years ahead of schedule. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the dam on September 30,1935. The power plant structures were completed in 1936, and the first generator began commercial operation in October of that year. The 17th and final generator went into commercial operation in 1961.

Hoover Dam was without precedent, the greatest dam constructed in its day. An arch-gravity structure rising 726 feet above bedrock, Hoover is still the Western Hemisphere's highest concrete dam. It is 660 feet thick at its base, 45 feet thick at its crest, and stretches 1,244 feet across the Black Canyon. There are 4.4 million cubic yards of concrete in the dam, power plant and related structures.

Hoover Dam pioneered the Bureau of Reclamation's efforts in multiple-purpose water resources development. The dam controls floods while it stores water for irrigation, municipal, and industrial uses. The dam also provides hydroelectric power generation, recreation and fish and wildlife habitat.

Dam Benefits

Colorado River water irrigates more than a million acres of land in the U.S., and nearly half a million acres in Mexico. The water helps meet the municipal and industrial needs of over 14 million people. As it passes through Hoover's turbines, the water generates low-cost hydroelectric power for use in Nevada, Arizona and California. About 4 billion kilowatt-hours of energy, enough for 500,000 homes, are generated annually:

Irrigation & Storage

Water that was once muddy is now sparkling clear in reservoirs and in stretches of the Colorado River. Hoover and other dams on the Colorado have tamed the turbulent flow, creating clean bodies of water that provide recreation for more than 10 million people each year. These waters have also provided habitats for fish and wildlife in areas that were once nearly barren.

Colorado River water stored behind Hoover Dam irrigates some of America's richest farmlands. Valley and mesa lands in the warm desert climate along the river grow a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and other non-surplus crops throughout the year. Major irrigation projects, which benefit from Hoover's control and regulation of the Colorado River, include the Palo Verde Valley, the Colorado River Indian Reservation, the Yuma and Gila projects in Arizona, and the Imperial and Coachella valleys in California.

By regulating the Colorado River, Hoover Dam assures a steady flow of municipal and industrial water to Los Angeles, San Diego and other cities in the Southwest. Phoenix, Arizona was added to the list when the Central Arizona Project began delivering water in 1985. The Tucson area began to receive project water in 1991. Several agriculture users, a number of smaller cities, and an Indian community between Phoenix and Tucson also benefit from the water availability.

Part of the hydroelectric energy generated at Hoover and Parker dams helps pump water along the Colorado River Aqueduct. The 242-mile-long aqueduct has an annual capacity of 1.212 million acre-feet (1 billion gallons) of water a day. Five pumping stations lift the water 1,617 feet over the mountains between the Colorado River and the coastal plain.

Homes and industries in the Las Vegas metropolitan area receive Colorado River water from Lake Mead through the Robert B. Griffith Water Project, which was completed in 1982.

Hydroelectric Power

Hydroelectric power is created as water rushes through turbines that activate generators. When the water has completed its task, it flows on unchanged to serve other needs. The electricity produced is clean, nonpolluting and, unlike many other forms of energy, renewable.

Through the sale of power and water, a major portion of the money used to construct Reclamation projects is returned to the Federal Treasury. Hoover Dam's approximate $175 million cost was repaid over a 50-year period, with interest. Hoover Dam and power plant revenues from the sale of water and power have repaid approximately $260 million, including interest, to the Federal Treasury, principally from 50-year power contracts that ended May 31, 1987. Several contingencies, including $25 million allocated to flood control, will be repaid with interest over the 30-year contract period which began June 1, 1987.

Water is released from Lake Mead through similar sets of diversion works in both walls of Black Canyon. The water, drawn through the intake towers, flows through pipes called penstocks, to the power plants. The penstocks also can be used to discharge water directly from the reservoir to the river below the dam. The spillways were tested in 1941 and not used again until the record high flows of 1983.

Vital Statistics
Hoover Dam
Height: 726.4 feet (221.28 meters)
Crest Length: 1,244 feet(379.2 meters)
Top Thickness: 45 feet (13.7 meters)
Bottom Thickness: 660 feet (201.2 meters)
Composition: 3.25 million cubic yards
(2.5 million cubic meters) of concrete.
The Reservoir (Lake Mead)
Length: When full 110 miles
Shoreline: 550 miles
Capacity: 28,537,000 acre-feet , including dead storage
Maximum depth: 500 feet
Area: 157,900 acres
Elevation: 1221.4 feet

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ships in storm

The 2007 Hurricane Season is on, with the onslaught of the monster hurricane "Dean" - a catastrophic category five storm. I'm sure we'll all see the tv coverage of what it's like somewhere on-shore, but here are some hair-raising pictures of ships in heavy seas, including a wrecked oil rig platform (the likes of which they are evacuating right now, away from the hurricane's path)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

World's most Interesting Bridges

1. The Piazza di San Marco - Venice

The Piazza di San Marco may be more famous, but the Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge) is the true heart of Venice. The current structure was built in just three years, between 1588 and 1591, as a permanent replacement for the boat bridge and three wooden bridges that had spanned the Grand Canal at various times since the 12th Century. It remained the only way to cross the Grand Canal on foot until the Accademia Bridge was built in 1854.

The Rialto Bridge's 24-foot arch was designed to allow passage of galleys, and the massive structure was built on some 12,000 wooden pilings that still support the bridge more than 400 years later. The architect, Antonio da Ponte ("Anthony of the Bridge," appropriately enough), competed against such eminent designers as Michelangelo and Palladio for the contract.

The bridge has three walkways: two along the outer balustrades, and a wider central walkway leading between two rows of small shops that sell jewelry, linens, Murano glass, and other items for the tourist trade. (NOTE: The bridge consists primarily of steps, making it a challenge for tourists with strollers or wheelchairs.)

2. Stari Most (The Old Bridge) - Mostar

Stari Most (English translation: "The Old Bridge") is a 16th century Turkish bridge in the city of Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina that crosses the river Neretva and connects two parts of the city. The bridge was destroyed by Croatian Council of Defence units during the War in Bosnia-Herzegovina, on November 9, 1993 at 10.15 am. A project was set in motion to rebuild it, and the new bridge built by Turkish masters opened on July 23, 2004.

The bridge spans the Neretva river in the old town of Mostar, the city to which it gave the name. The city is the fourth-largest in the country, it is the center of the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton of the Federation, and the unofficial capital of Herzegovina.

The Stari Most is hump-backed, 4 meters wide and 30 meters long, and dominates the river from a height of 24 meters. Two fortified towers protect it: the Helebija tower on the northeast and the Tara tower on the southwest, called "the bridge keepers" (natively mostari).

The arch of the bridge was made of local stone known as tenelija. The shape of the arch is the result of numerous irregularities produced by the deformation of the intrados (the inner line of the arch). The most accurate description would be that it is a circle of which the centre is depressed in relation to the string course.

Instead of foundations, the bridge has abutments of limestone linked to wing walls along the waterside cliffs. Measuring from the summer water level of 40.05 m, abutments are erected to a height of 6.53 m, from which the arch springs to its high point. The start of the arch is emphasized by a moulding 0.32 m. in height. The rise of the arch is 12.02 m.

3. Gateshead Millennium Bridge - England

Designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects and engineered by Gifford, the bridge takes its place at the end of a line of distinguished bridges across the River Tyne, including the Tyne Bridge and Robert Stephenson's High Level Bridge.

Linking Gateshead with Newcastle via Gateshead Quays (described as one of the best places in Europe by Tony Blair) and Newcastle’s Quayside, the bridge not only serves a functional purpose as the River Tyne’s only foot and cycle bridge, but its grace and engineering attract people from all over the world.

In 1996 Gateshead Council launched a competition to find a bridge that would link developments on both sides of the River Tyne and also complement the existing six bridges crossing the river.

There were over 150 entries. Gateshead residents voted for their favourite design from a shortlist of leading architectural companies.

The brief was to create a bridge for pedestrians and cyclists that:
-Allowed ships to pass underneath;
-Did not overshadow the world famous view of the existing bridges;
-Didn’t obstruct the Quayside.

The winning design by Wilkinson & Eyre Architects and Gifford & Partners met the criteria perfectly. Everyone knew this design was exceptional.

Leader of Gateshead Council, Councillor Mick Henry said:

"When we chose the design for the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, we knew we had something very special. The many awards and accolades it has received for its design and construction, has certainly proved us right. But even though we knew how innovative it was, we have been taken aback by the massive worldwide interest in our bridge.

"Local people have taken the bridge to their hearts as a symbol of Gateshead’s renaissance, and we are thrilled that the bridge now looks set to appear on a pound coin in the near future.

"But we are equally flattered that people right around the world are interested in what we have done, and will continue to do, in order to regenerate Gateshead Quays and East Gateshead."

4. The Longest Arch Bridge - Lupu Bridge - China

The Lupu Bridge is currently the longest arch bridge in the world, stretching a massive 550 meters across the Huangpu River, China. Along with being a record holder ("The bridge's arch is longer than the previous record holder, the 518-metre long New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia"), the bridge is also the center point for a lot of local hostility.

The need for a bridging between the Luwan District on the north bank, and Pudong New District on the south bank was agreed by all, but that was where the agreement stopped. The exorbitant cost of the Lupu Bridge was frowned upon by locals and scholars, but chosen by the disgraced mayor Chen Liangyu as it would set the area apart with a world record bridge. The critics use this bridge as an argument to prove the city officials superficiality, when weighed against the needs of its people.

5. Hangzhou Bay Bridge - China

Hangzhou Bay Bridge , is a cable-stayed bridge across Hangzhou Bay off the eastern coast of China. It was linked up on June 14, 2007, and connects the municipalities of Shanghai and Ningbo in Zhejiang province. The bridge is the longest trans-oceanic bridge in the world, although it does not have the longest cable-stayed main span. The opening ceremony was held on June 26, 2007 with great domestic media publicity, though after the opening ceremony, the bridge would only be used for test and evaluation purposes. It will not be available to ordinary public transportation, which is scheduled sometime in 2008.

Construction of this bridge started on June 8, 2003. The bridge itself is 36 km long with six expressway lanes in two directions, making it the second-longest bridge in the world after the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana, USA. The bridge has two main spans, with a 448 metre northern span, and a 318 metre southern span. The designated speed is 100 kilometers per hour, and the designed longevity is more than 100 years. The total investment on the bridge is RMB 11.8 billion (US$ 1.4 billion as of December 2004). 35% of this amount was raised from private companies in Ningbo, 59% was provided as loans from China's central and regional banks. Orthotropic steel deck is used on its main spans and five ramp bridges, and is to be paved with 50 mm epoxy asphalt concrete.

6. The Kawazu-Nanadaru Loop Bridge

Many innovations seem only to appear where there is a really unusual need, warranting an unusual solution. The Kawazu-Nanadaru Loop Bridge in Japan is one such example: How do you build a bridge from one mountainside to another when the sides of the mountain are so steep that it is not possible to build a road at the same elevation on both sides? This double spiral brings cars up and down a full 45 meters (148 feet) while being seemingly suspended in a valley between two mountainsides.

Some other stats:
- 1.1 km long
- 80 meters in diameter
- speed limit: 30 km/h

Coming upon this bridge in the middle of this mountain road is quite an experience. The bridge was finished in 1982 and has become a popular landmark on route 414 heading south from Tokyo towards the hot spring resorts of the Izu peninsula. If you know of any other bridges like this in the world, please let me know via the comments below.

7. Oresund Bridge

The Oresund Bridge (Danish Øresundsbroen, Swedish Öresundsbron, joint hybrid name Øresundsbron) is a combined two-track rail and four-lane road bridge across the Oresund strait. The bridge-tunnel is the longest combined road and rail bridge in Europe and connects the two metropolitan areas of the Oresund Region: the Danish capital of Copenhagen and the Swedish city of Malmö. The international European route E20 runs across the bridge, as does the Oresund Railway Line.

The bridge has one of the longest cable-stayed main spans in the world at 490 metres (1,608 ft). The height of the highest pillar is 204 metres (669 ft). The total length of the bridge is 7,845 metres (25,738 ft), which is approximately half the distance between the Swedish and Danish landmasses, and its weight is 82,000 metric tons. The rest of the distance is spanned by the artificial island Peberholm (Pepper islet) (4,055 m), named as a counterpart to the already existing Saltholm islet, followed by a tunnel on the Danish side. The tunnel is 4,050 metres (13,287 ft) long, a 3,510 metre long buried undersea tunnel plus two 270-metre gate-tunnels. On the bridge, the two rail-tracks are beneath the four road lanes. The bridge has a vertical clearance of 57 metres (187 ft), although most boat traffic across Oresund still passes over the Drogden strait (where the tunnel lies). The bridge was designed by Arup.