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8 of the most interesting construction fails…

April 29, 2014 featured image

The construction game can be tough sometimes. Wiring up a house, fitting a boiler or putting in a new kitchen all require a well honed set of skills developed over time with the right training.

But sometimes it seems like the world is just against you and no matter how well prepared you think you are, or how much money you chuck at a project, it’s destined to fail!

Here are 8 of the most interesting, impacting (including Ronan point) and also just plain stupid construction fails the world has ever seen…

1. Ronan point

Old Tower Block Building

Ronan point was a brand new 22-storey tower block in Newham, East London. In 1968, months after it had been finished, a gas explosion caused by a resident lighting a match, caused the entire corner of the building to collapse, killing four people and injuring 17.

The Ronan point disaster is often regarded as the Titanic of the construction industry. It sparked major changes in building regulations and lead to the establishment of CORGI in 1970. Now known as Gas Safe Register, registration requires all gas operatives hold a certificate of competence under the Accredited Certification scheme.

2. The Walkie Talkie building, London

20 Fenchurch street aka “The Walkie Talkie” in the city of London is an unusually shaped skyscraper that became famous for the wrong reasons. It melts cars. Because of it’s shape and the removal of sun-louvers during the planning process, the building would generate beams of light 6 times brighter than direct sunlight.

Think death rays beaming down onto the streets below! Spot temperature readings of 91°C (196 °F) and 117°C (243°F) were observed!

3. The Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Washington 

When this suspension bridge was completed on the 1st July 1940 Galloping Gertie, as the bridge became known, was the third largest bridge of it’s kind in the world. It took just over 5 months for it to collapse in spectacular fashion when high winds caused the bridge to shake itself apart.

The event lead to a change in the way engineers design suspension bridges. Galloping Gertie’s failure led to the safer suspension bridges we use today, all over the world.


4. The world Islands in Dubai

A project which began in 2003 and had already cost $14 billion in 2005, The World Islands were an engineering marvel when they began to take shape. A sea barrier had to be built to protect each island from storms and harsh seas.

Unfortunately, despite rumours of various celebrities purchasing an island (Rod Stewart owned the UK at one point) development problems and reports the islands were sinking seemed to put people off. As of 2011 only one show home had been built and commercial or residential properties were not being constructed on any of the other islands. 11 years after the project started, JK properties are now announcing further developments and an end may be in sight. Even if there isn’t at least we have something amazing to look at on Google earth!

5. Ryugyong Hotel, North Korea

The Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang has lived with some unenviable knick-names including “The hotel of doom” and the “Phantom hotel”.

A 105 story pyramid that is one of the tallest buildings in the world, it was supposed to house 3000 rooms. Instead it’s never been finished because the powers that be in North Korea want to make it taller. There are estimates that the building has cost N.Korea 2 percent of it’s GDP. Insanity.

6. The Lotus Riverside, Shaghai 

Back in 2009 this building simply fell over after the river bank near the building began to collapse. Workers had started excavating an underground garage for the complex which caused it to topple over. The event sparked worries about construction safety in China but with media blackouts common place it’s hard to know if there was any change in building regulation in the country.

7. Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Perhaps the most famous construction site in the world, perhaps the most visited, the Gaudi designed Sagrada Familia in Barcelona was started in 1882 and will not be completed till (reportedly) 2026. However with Spain’s troubled economy and criticism that the building is moving away from Gaudi’s original vision it may never be finished.


 8. Sochi winter games 2014

Officially the most expensive winter Olympics in history, The Sochi games became infamous for dodgy construction work, unfinished hotels, rings not going off, terrible plumbing and questionable political views.

For a while it looked like the endless stream of PR disasters would overshadow the games but the somehow the organisers pulled off a relatively drama free, successful winter Olympics. Shame they undid all the good, unifying work by invading Crimea weeks later…

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