Manmade structures can be incredible feats of architectural accomplishment when they’re aboveground. When they’re belowground, this accomplishment can be even more impressive. Underground structures require a wealth of innovation that aboveground structures often don’t require. If you’re interested in some of the most incredible architectural feats currently available in the world, consider these six biggest underground structures that far surpass the typical bar.
1. Deepest Subway Station
If you’ve ever been on the New York City subway, you know that subway stations can be surprisingly far below ground. However, Arsenalna Station in Kyiv, Ukraine is double the depth of even the deepest NYC stop. This stop is 346 feet below ground.
The reason for this extremely deep subway stop has to do with the unique positioning of Arsenalna itself. Arsenalna is on the top of a tall hill, surrounded by a steep valley and a river. The design team for the metro station realized that instead of making the train go up and down the hill to deliver people to Arsenalna, they could instead go directly through the hill. With this idea, the deepest subway station ever was born.
2. Deepest Basement
When you think of the Sydney Opera House, you probably think of the incredible appearance of the building. Of course, this is itself a monumental architectural success, but it’s not the end of the architectural finesse the Sydney Opera House has been able to showcase.
The parking garage under the Sydney Opera House is in fact the world’s deepest basement. It stretches 120 feet underground. Rather than just being an underground square, as though the designers had picked up an aboveground parking lot and put it under the Sydney Opera House, it’s a creative double helix shape to accommodate fire restrictions.
3. Longest Underground Tunnel
For many years, getting through the Swiss Alps was a huge challenge that required a lot of uphill and downhill travel. With the help of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, however, it’s much easier. This 35-mile tunnel is the first-ever flat route through the Alps.
It took about 28 million metric tons of rock to create this tunnel, including 73 different types of rock. At its deepest point, the tunnel reaches 8,040 feet below the surface, creating a temperature of 115 degrees in unvented areas.
4. Deepest Building Foundation
Skyscrapers need gigantic building foundations to ensure they don’t fall over. Skyscrapers in earthquake-prone areas need this even more. The Salesforce Tower, in earthquake-prone San Francisco, needed a record-breaking foundation that was 310 feet deep, including an acre-wide 14-foot-thick concrete slab.
The fact that this skyscraper was in such an earthquake-prone area caused the designers to push as hard as possible for brand new ways to keep the skyscraper safe. That means it set new benchmarks in seismic safety, ensuring against common problems like foundation settlement.
5. Biggest Underground City
Underground feats aren’t just something that has happened in the modern world. In the ancient world, underground manmade structures existed as well. A great example is the Derinkuyu tunnels under Cappadocia in Turkey, which stretches down 18 stories.
The Derinkuyu tunnels were fully formed by around 1200 CE, with locals using them to hide out during battles that would happen in the area. However, they were lost in the early 1900s. Then, they were rediscovered in 1963 on accident by a Turkish man when he tried to renovate his basement.
6. Deepest Underground Research Center
Research centers need extreme sensitivity when it comes to readings. This is especially true when doing physics experiments; cosmic radiation can actually impact super-sensitive physics readings. That’s why China’s Jinping Underground Laboratory, at 7,900 feet deep, is offering another option.
This laboratory is inside a former gold mine, which is great because it means that scientists can just drive in without having to take complicated machinery down into the research facility. Plus, cosmic noise can be reduced by a factor of more than 10 million.
Underground structures can be incredibly amazing to do more research on. Whether it’s one of these or a completely different world record holder, never be afraid to look into the most incredible architectural accomplishments created by humans.