Built to carry full airplane fuselages from one factory to another, the Airbus Beluga is truly a "mega airplane." While assembly information on the Airbus Beluga is a protected secret, the fact that they've built a plane with the size and power to carry multiple other planes across continents is really one of the modern architectural wonders.
Bagger 288 is the world's largest land vehicle. Weighing 45,500 tons, standing at 311 feet tall and measuring 705 feet long, this mega structure was designed to excavate coal from a coal mine in Western Germany.
It took 5 years to design and cost $100 million to build. The resources needed to create something like the Bagger 288 truly makes it one of the awe-inspiring architectural wonders of the world, but it's a small price to pay for a machine literally designed to move mountains.
The CERNLarge Hadron Collider is a 17-mile-long particle accelerator built to make two particles collide at near light speeds. Of course, being a 17-mile-long science experiment alone classifies it as amega structure, but what's really incredible about this thing is that it was built with the cooperation of people from over 100 countries and it is located under the border between France and Switzerland.
The spirit of scientific collaboration needed to build this thing is amazing and should really change the way you think about architecture.
Dubai's Palm Islands are a series of beautiful man-made islands designed to increase the size of Dubai's beaches. These real architectural wonders took 3 billion cubic feet of sand and over 7 million tons of rock to build. Various environmental agencies claim that displacing this much sand and rock in the Persian Gulf has had a visible effect on erosion patterns and the temperature of the waves.
If you need to haul something huge across the ocean, there's only one ship big enough for the job and it's the Blue Marlin. With a carrying capacity of 75,000 tons and a deck that's as big as two soccer fields, the Blue Marlin has carried everything from battleships to submarines to oil rigs on its giant deck.
What's truly incredible about this ship isn't its size, it's how it was built to load and unload its massive cargo. Even the biggest crane in the world can't lift a battleship, so The Blue Marlin is able to sink 13 meters below the waves in order to allow whatever it's transporting to float onto its deck. Then it uses its massive ballast tanks to lift itself out of the water with its cargo on board. Now that's a wonder of architecture!
The largest building in the world by volume, the Boeing Everett Factory is so large that its massive hangar doors are each the size of a football field. While the structure itself it so large that you could fit 75 football fields inside of it, what's truly incredible about this architectural marvel is what's just below the roof. The Boeing Everett Factory is so large that it has its own weather system and architects had to build a state of the art circulation system just to prevent clouds from forming. Incredible!
Weighing over a million pounds and with over 4000 horse power, theCat 797B is a mining truck designed for only the toughest jobs. The truck is so huge that it can only be partially built in the factory. The final assembly happens at the job location.
Stats on theCat 797Band a video showing this monster being built can be found here.
Now if you thought the Cat 797B was massive, this is how it measures up to the Mirny Diamond Mine. This pit is 525 meters deep and 3,900 feet across. Located in Siberia, it can get so cold in and around the mine that actual jet engines are used to melt the permafrost. When that doesn't work, explosives are used just to thaw the landscape. Even though this is one of the largest mines in one of the harshest places on earth, it still annually produces over 10 million carats of diamonds.
How's that for an incredible architectural achievement?
Built in the 1960s in Puerto Rico, Arecibo Observatory's giant radio telescope is primarily used to track asteroids. The dish is 1000 feet in diameter and has been used to broadcast messages into space in an effort to contact extraterrestrials.
Built over fifty years ago, this mega structure still feels futuristic, and that is incredible.
Standing at over 400 meters long, the Bullwinkle Oil Platform is one of the largest standing structures in the world. What's truly incredible is that it was built in segments, assembled on its side and then hauled from Texas to the Gulf of Mexico. That's like if they built the Empire State Building in Chicago and then shipped it (basically intact) to New York!
Standing at 2,722 ft tall, Burj Khalifa in Dubai is the tallest artificial structure in the world. It is so enormous that architects had to invent an entirely new building style called "buttressed core" just to build it. The skyscraper has three "legs." Each leg helps support the other two and without it, building to this extreme height would be far more difficult.
The Jiaozhou Bay Bridge, built to connect the city of Qingdao with a nearby airport, is the longest sea bridge in the world. The bridge is over 26 miles long, and it took 10,000 workers working around the clock four years to build.
That many people working for that long to build one of the world's modern architectural wonders? Truly amazing.
Though not as massive as some of the other mega structures on this list, the Tsar Cannon was built in 1586 and is still one of the largest cannons in the world. The cannon balls alone for this thing weigh one thousand kilos each. The cannon itself is over 5 meters long and though it hasn't been used in battle, it has been fired before.
The fact that something this massive and destructive was built by a single person (caster Andrey Chokhov) over four hundred years ago makes it more than welcome to a spot on our list.
Standing at over 420 feet tall, the Spring Temple Buddha is the largest statue in the world. Located in China's Henan province, construction of the statue began in 2001 and continued for seven years. It's so massive, that architects had to reshape the hill while building it. Where there's a will there's a way, I guess.
Though this statue looks really impressive from afar, you have to get up close to truly appreciate it.
There we go. How incredible is it that architects were able to build something so massive that the top of your head barely comes over the top of the statue's toe!
Of course, the goal of any architect is basically the same. To build a structure or object in such a way that it doesn't fall down. What these pictures changed about the way that we look at architecture is the sheer scale that they can build at. It's easy to build a building, but the skill, time and manpower to build a "mega structure" is truly something to behold.