When it comes to building materials, steel is hard to beat. Among other things, it’s strong, light, cost-effective and versatile. No wonder there are so many steel buildings and structures in the world!
When it comes to steel structures, they run the gamut from the practical to the innovative, the plain to the beautiful. Here are some of the standouts.
The Tyne Bridge, Newcastle–Gateshead, UK
The Tyne Bridge was opened in 1928, stands 193 feet above ground level and contains steelwork weighing 7,122 tons. The weight of the distinctive through arch accounts for around half of that.
Incidentally, if the Tyne Bridge looks familiar to any Aussie readers, that’s perhaps because it was built by the same company that built the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which was completed four years later.
The Statue of Liberty, New York, USA
The Eiffel Tower, in Paris, is not the only historic monument that Gustave Eiffel is associated with; he is also responsible for the metal structure within the Statue of Liberty, which was a gift from France to the USA. The statue itself is made from copper, hence the verdigris finish, but it’s steel that keeps Lady Liberty’s torch aloft.
The Atomium, Brussels, Belgium
This astonishing structure – representing an elementary iron crystal – was created for the 1958 World Fair of Brussels. The nine spheres house public spaces, all interconnected by tubes that contain stairs and escalators. The whole of the exterior is clad in stainless steel.
The Atomium was only intended to last for six months, and yet it became so loved that it is newly renovated and as popular as ever. CNN have called it ‘Europe’s most bizarre building’.
Basilica of San Sebastian, Manila, Philippines
As steel buildings go, this one is unique. This late 19th-century Gothic Revival structure is the only prefabricated steel church in the world. The pre-fabricated steel sections were manufactured in Belgium, then shipped to Manila for construction.
Four previous churches on the site were destroyed by fire and earthquake; the steel church has stood firm since its completion in 1891.
Burj Khalifa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
This astonishing steel building – the tallest in the world – was constructed using a bundled tube design, which reduced the amount of steel needed. It stands 2,722 feet high and dominates the skyline of Dubai. If you have a head for heights, there’s an observation deck at 1,821 feet, from where, when conditions are just right, you can see the coast of Iran.
Will it remain the world’s tallest building? Reports – admittedly unconfirmed – of plans to increase the height of the tower suggest it intends to keep its crown for as long as possible!