Quality infrastructure is essential for progress: it connects people, enables trade, powers businesses, provides opportunities for communities and stimulates the economy by generating millions of jobs each year. The $3.6 trillion annual global infrastructure market contributes to our quality of life in a plethora of ways – from airports, wind farms and gas lines to broadband networks, railways, buildings and roads, we depend on the industry daily. Read on for ten infrastructure facts from around the world.

1. The oldest building in the world is Göbekli Tepe in Turkey

Göbekli Tepe (Go-Beck-Lee-Te-Peh), circa 9600 BC, is believed to be the oldest human-built structure ever discovered. Officially a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Göbekli Tepe is situated in the South East of Turkey and its name translates roughly to ‘Belly Hill’. The existing remains of the ancient structure include more than 200 pillars in around 20 circles, with each pillar standing about six metres tall and weighing over seven tons. Believed to have once been a temple, the pillars feature carvings of animals and other images.

2. Singapore has the world’s best infrastructure

According to a worldwide survey conducted in 2019 by the World Economic Forum, Singapore ranks number one in the world for its infrastructure, with an impressive score of 95.4 on a scale of 0 to 100. For comparison, Australia ranked 29th, with a score of 72.9, while the US placed 13th, Canada as 26th, China as 36th and New Zealand as 46th on the list. These infrastructure scores were calculated based on factors such as the quality of roads, railroad density, airport connectivity, efficiency of seaport services, electric power transmission and distribution losses, exposure to unsafe drinking water and reliability of water supply.

3. The longest railway in the world is the Trans-Siberian Railway in Russia

Located in Russia, the Trans-Siberian Railway spans a whopping 9,289 kilometres, making it the longest railway line in the world. As the name suggests, the railway crosses the entire width of Russia and is in fact wider than Russia itself, which has a maximum east-west distance of 9,000 kilometres. The line, which runs from the capital Moscow all the way to Vladivstok on the Pacific Ocean, is also one of the busiest railway lines in the world. Construction began in 1891 and was completed eight and a half years later. Despite some of its darker contributions to the history books, such as helping to instigate a war, the Trans-Siberian Railway is recognised as one of the most impressive engineering feats in modern history.

4. Australia’s largest infrastructure investment: 2021-2031

At present the Australian government is investing record amounts on new infrastructure projects, feeding a 10 year, $110 billion infrastructure program. An additional $15.2 billion has been allocated to help support more than 30,000 infrastructure jobs across the lifespan of those projects. This builds on the 100,000 jobs already being supported by projects currently under construction through the existing pipeline. This massive investment is aimed at reviving a pandemic-hit economy and is expected to grow Australia’s construction industry by 2.2% in 2021 – countering the 2.1% decline of 2020. On the current trajectory, Australia’s construction industry is forecast to employ 1.28 million people by 2024.

5. The tallest building in the world is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai 

Since 2010, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa has held the record of tallest building in the world, at a towering 828 metres high. That’s over two and a half times the height of the iconic Eiffel Tower, which previously held the title of world’s tallest building for over 40 years. Not content with just one record, Burj Khalifa actually holds seven world records in total. If you are one of the building’s lucky 30,000 residents, you can enjoy traveling between its record-breaking 163 floors in the world’s fastest – and longest distance – elevator and perhaps even check out the view from the highest observation deck in the world. The weight of the concrete used to build this enormous structure is equivalent to 100,000 elephants, while the total weight of the aluminium used is equal to that of five A380 aircraft.

6. The longest bridge in the world is Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge in China

Located between Nanjing and Shanghai in China, the 164.8 kilometre Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge is by far the longest bridge in the world. Spanning both land and water, the bridge is more than four times lengthier than the world’s longest water-spanning bridge. Construction of the bridge began in 2006 and took four years, 10,000 workers and $8.5 billion of funding to complete. Built to transport trains on one of China’s premier high-speed railways, the bridge is as strong as it is long: designed to withstand a magnitude eight earthquake and direct impact from naval vessels weighing up to 300,000 tons.

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7. One of the quirkiest office buildings in the world is the Cybertecture Egg in India

Every industry has creative, out-of-the-box thinkers – those who refuse to colour between the lines – and the infrastructure industry is no different. One of the zaniest office designs ever hatched came to fruition as the Cybertecture Egg in Mumbai, India. This poultry-inspired office was built with sustainability in mind, featuring 33,000 square metres of office space, an elevated garden and 400 parking spaces, all taking up about 15 per cent less space than a traditional office building. As smart as it is unique, the building features a diagrid exoskeleton (a self-supporting rigid outer structure) that negates the need for support columns, allowing it to be built with less material than required for a traditional orthogonal building. The building uses wind turbines and solar photovoltaic panels to generate electricity onsite and features a greywater recycling system for landscaping and irrigation.

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8. Australia’s largest current infrastructure project is WestConnex

The largest infrastructure project currently underway in Australia is WestConnex. The $16 billion venture comprises a 33 kilometre continuous motorway linking Western and South Western Sydney with the city, airport and port. Once complete, WestConnex will enable motorists to bypass 52 sets of traffic lights between Beverly Hills and Parramatta. Due for completion in 2023, the project will generate 10,000 direct and indirect jobs over its lifespan. For a list of Australia’s 10 largest infrastructure projects currently underway, see here.

9. One of the smartest buildings in the world is The Edge in Amsterdam

Dubbed one of the smartest buildings in the world by Bloomberg, The Edge is an office building in Amsterdam equipped with approximately 28,000 sensors which allow its main tenant Deloitte to monitor and support the needs of its 2,850 employees. The building recognises your car when you arrive and directs you to an available parking spot. Employees don’t have a desk, they simply use the building app to find an appropriate space to suit their schedule, whether it’s a sitting desk, standing desk, work booth, meeting room, balcony seat or ‘concentration room’. Wherever employees go, the building adjusts the environment according to their individual preference for light and temperature (imagine that!). Employees use smartphones to interact with the building, using an app to locate colleagues, scheduling a time when they can work out in the building’s gym, and even ordering groceries to be delivered to them at knock-off time. The Edge is considered to be one of the world’s most sustainable structures, with solar panels producing more energy than the building uses. Clever design maximises on natural lighting and ensures every desk is within seven metres of a window. On days when fewer employees are in the building, entire sections are shut down, cutting the costs of heating, cooling, lighting and cleaning.

10. The world’s largest current construction project is Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai

Dubai’s expansion of Al Maktoum International Airport is the largest construction project currently underway in the world. Approved in 2014, the $44 billion expansion will make Al Maktoum the world’s biggest airport when complete, increasing passenger capacity to 220 million per year and enabling the airport to handle 200 wide-body aircraft at a time. The expansion is being executed in two phases over the next six to eight years.

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