30 St Mary Axe

The 30 St Mary Axe first emerged above London’s skyline in 2003, it was unlike any tall building that Londoners had ever previously seen. It almost instantly became known “the Gherkin,” and, although the likeness to a pickled cucumber might seem a touch far-fetched, the nickname does acknowledge not only the tower’s unique, organic shape, but also its proud claim to be “green.” The building’s well-known architect, Lord Foster, has described it as a “pine cone.”

The shape of the building allows the 40-story building to occupy a minimum of ground space. The diameter of the building is 50 metres at base level, it expands bulbous waist of 56 metres on the 16th before tapering towards its highest point. In fact, the buildings height of 180 metres is only 2 metres greater than its maximum circumference. This means that the most of the site is left free as public space, a valuable commodity in London’s densely built financial heart. The shape also offers less resistance to the wind, reducing the down-droughts and eddies that swirl around tall structures.

The buildings consume up to 30 percent less energy than an equivalent-sized office block of conventional design. Much of this saving is achieved through the tower’s “biomorphic” form, which reduces the reliance on artificial lighting and air conditioning. The atria that spiral up around the core open up the structure to sunlight and fresh air, which is drawn by natural convection through the diagonal raising levels. Windows can also be opened to allow natural ventilation of the building.

Facts

  • The building was officially opened in March 2004 and it can, in theory, accommodate about 4,000 people.
  • The building contains nearly 35 kilometers on structural steel.
  • The glass cladding consists of 5,500 panels, covering the equivalent of 5 soccer fields.

Millau Viaduct Bridge

The Millau Viaduct is a cable-stayed bridge that spans the valley of the River Tarn near Millau in southern France.

Designed by the British architect Norman Foster and French structural engineer Michel Virlogeux, it is the tallest bridge in the world with one mast’s summit at 343 meters above the base of the structure. It is the 17th highest bridge deck in the world, being 270 meters between the road deck and the ground below. The Millau Viaduct is part of the A75-A71 autoroute axis from Paris to Béziers and Montpellier. The cost of construction was approximately €400 million. It was formally inaugurated on 14 December 2004 and opened to traffic on 16 December. The bridge has been consistently ranked as one of the great engineering achievements of all time and received the 2006 International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering Outstanding Structure Award.

The bridge is also one of the most extremely dangerous bridge because of its location and architecture. Driving with high winds is particularly demanding for large vehicles such as trucks and buses and trailers. Their large surface, especially when the wind hits laterally, increase the risk of overturning. If traffic is not banned them altogether, there’s only one solution to avoid the accident: slow down and increase the safety distances. Light vehicles will need to exercise extreme vigilance when overtaking, especially heavyweight causing air calls and two wheels that can easily swerve. Again, slow is the best way to protect yourself.

The bridge was opened by President Jacques Chirac. In his speech he praised the design saying that it was a ‘monument to French engineering genius’ and ‘a miracle of equilibrium’.
The bridge was entirely privately financed and cost 394 million euros. The aim is to cut the traveling time to southern France, removing the bottle neck at Millau, through the completion of the motorway between Paris and the Mediterranean.

Facts

  • The Millau Viaduct Bridge has earned many records for being on of the worlds most dangerous bridge.
  • Construction record for the highest pylon was broken during the building of the bridge.
  • It is built on the harp design of cable-stayed bridges.

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