Hong Kong Engineering Wonders

stonecutter bridge

Stonecutters Bridge. Image Source: ARUP

The Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE) has announced the return of its Hong Kong People Engineering Wonders awards.

The campaign, which was first run in 2000, invites the general public to vote for what they considered as the top 10 engineering masterpieces in Hong Kong over the past 10 years. A total of 20 projects were initially shortlisted for public voting based on five main criteria: recognition, pride, contribution, advancement and appearance.

Stonecutters Bridge, the world’s second-longest spanning cable-stayed bridge, which straddles the Rambler Channel at the entrance to the Kwai Chung container terminals and provides a landmark gateway to Hong Kong, earned the most votes.

With a highly distinctive form, its key design features include a 1,018-metre long steel main span, supported by two 290-metre tall concrete and stainless steel towers and a 53-metre wide deck split into two streamlined boxes and connected by cross girders. It stands as one of two cable-stay bridges in the world with a span in excess of 1,000 metres.

Because of its sheer size, accurate dimensional control is necessary to ensure all parts of the bridge fit together as designed. This required great control during casting of concrete elements and prefabrication and assembly of the large-scale steel elements that make up the deck.

stonecutter bridge

Stonecutters Bridge. Image Source: Mega Bridges

Building a bridge with such a large span – one which is exposed to strong typhoon winds – created many challenges for the Arup design team, including analysis of wind patterns at the site and mitigating against potential ship impact. This was in addition to challenges relating to working at such a large-scale and height while also ensuring minimum disruption to shipping traffic.

The most challenging part of the project was the coordination between the various elements of the bridge. All parts had to fit together, requiring close coordination between the temporary and permanent works and between on-site and off-site construction.

Another favourite of Hong Kong People Engineering Wonders voters was the International Commerce Centre (ICC).

The 490-metre high, 118-storey International Commerce Center (ICC) is currently the tallest building in Hong Kong and the fourth tallest in the world, and has set new benchmarks for tall building construction in Hong Kong.

The main structural skeleton is constructed with a high strength/high modulus concrete core wall and external mega-columns to enhance the tower’s overall stiffness. Its structural design was used to help formulate the new Hong Kong Wind Code.

As a part of its performance-based fire engineering design, a smoke control and management system was successfully integrated into the entrance lobby. A group of smoke-and-heat detection systems were cleverly combined in this large space to measure the thermal features of smoke spread and enable the extraction rate and the extraction systems to be optimised.

international commerce centre

International Commerce Centre. Image Source: Travel And Leisure Asia

To achieve energy savings and improve building operations, the ICC building also includes a Building Management System (BMS), which integrates all building service elements such as the air conditioning, lighting, vertical transport, CCTV, fire service, plumbing and drainage and security systems.

Without an excellent integrated BMS, it would not be feasible to handle the sheer size of the building’s population, the multiplicity of user-groups and the complexity of the building’s design.

Other high-ranking projects in the Hong Kong People Engineering Wonders included the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme, Hong Kong West Drainage Tunnel, Hong Kong – Shenzhen Western Corridor, MTR West Rail Line, Caverning salt water service reservoirs to make way for sustainable development of the HKU Centennial Campus, e-Channels, The Hong Kong Wetland Park, and Town Island Renewable Energy Supply Project – Hong Kong’s first commercial-scale standalone renewable energy supply system.

The projects epitomise the role engineers play in every day life. From urban landmarks to transport links and resilient infrastructure, they drive the long-term development of Hong Kong and illustrate engineers’ innovation and contribution to the society.

The results will be showcased in an exhibition later this month as part of Engineering Week 2013, which aims to recognise the distinctive innovative ideas and contributions of engineers and arouse public interest in the engineering profession.

By Justin McGar
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