Brick By Brick: The Good & Bad of Construction

As technology has developed, possibilities in the world of construction and infrastructure have grown with it and the only limits are the limits of taste.

In this blog, we look at some of the world’s stranger construction and infrastructure projects and decide whether they come out winners or losers – great successes or empty failures…


Sagrada Família

Located in Barcelona, the Basilica I Temple Epiatori de la Sagrada Familia is one impressive construction project for a number of reasons. Ground was broken on this project in 1882, and no that isn’t a typo. Estimated to be completed in around ten years, the construction period has so far been a staggering 135 years.

This Roman Catholic church was transformed by architect Antoni Gaudi when he took over the project just a year into the project. Combining Gothic and Art Nouveau styles, construction of this mammoth building was delayed by the Spanish Civil War and now relies on tickets purchased by their 3million visitors a year to pay for the continued construction.

Regardless of the hugely protracted construction, one look at it and there’s no denying our verdict.

Verdict – Winner


Chinese Ghost Cities

This one isn’t one particular construction or infrastructure project per se, rather a strange amalgamation of many. China, the superpower home to some 1.3billion people, has been very busy indeed. Very busy, that is, building huge cities that often don’t get occupied at all. A classic example would be Ordos Kangbashi, a city of world-class architecture and millions of habitable properties that lies pretty much empty of, well, any people.

One of the reasons for this is actually investment – China’s need for homes due to their ever-growing and vast population will always exist, and therefore putting money into property is actually a better investment than putting it into a bank.

That said, the cities do resemble scenes from an apocalypse film and seem like an awful waste of resources. For that reason, our verdict stands.

Verdict – Loser



The Channel Tunnel

Affectionately known as the ‘Chunnel’, this massive infrastructure project changed Europe forever. Once an island cut off by all but boats from the main body of the continent, the United Kingdom was arguably the biggest winner upon completion of this project, with cities as far away as Brussels and Bruges now being accessible by one train – unimaginable in the very early days of rail.

The tunnel is just over 31 miles long, with 25 of those being under the sea. Six years of excavation employed over 13,000 people at peak times, and one of the huge machines used to dig the tunnel actually still remains buried in there. The completed tunnel opened in 1994 and now transports millions of people a year.

This is easily one of the most impressive construction and infrastructure projects of all time. The link between the UK and the mainland is priceless. It’s difficult to imagine a time without it.

Verdict – Winner


Ryugyong Hotel

North Korea. Ever-present in the news and rarely for good reasons, the so-called Hermit Kingdom is as fascinating as it is frighteningly dystopian.

Very little is known about what really goes on behind the curtain except for bits of news and the stories of the handful of Western people actually allowed into the country each year (literally about 6,000 maximum on hand-held tours).

Looking almost amusingly out of place among the barren wastes of concrete blocks that make up the countries capital of Pyongyang, this structure stands at over 1,000ft tall (105 floors) and was allegedly constructed to be the world’s tallest hotel by the time it was scheduled to be finished in 1989. Predictably, it still remains uncompleted to this day and very much unoccupied. Questions abound about the reasons for this failure to be completed, ranging from North Korea lacking funds and resources to complete it, to the actual structural integrity of the building itself.

As impressive as this could have been, this is North Korea, and our verdict lines up nicely with media nicknames. “The worst building in the world.” “Hotel of Doom.”

Verdict – Loser

Want to find out more about some upcoming construction and infrastructure projects? Take a look here


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