Skip to content
Civil Engineer blog

Civil engineering - Nordic style

16 April 2018

Nordic countries continue to lead the world in many aspects of infrastructure design and construction. Andrew Martin and Colin Rawlings report on a special issue of the ICE Civil Engineering journal that showcases the region’s latest projects.

Civil engineering - Nordic style
Image credit: Shutterstock

The Nordic countries – which are Denmark, Faroe Islands, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – are renowned for their innovative infrastructure solutions.

These technologically advanced north-western European states share the challenges of colder climates, difficult terrain and large inter-urban distances, plus opportunities for sustainable growth and regeneration in their major towns and cities.

The Institution of Civil Engineers has showcased some of the most innovative recent and ongoing Nordic infrastructure projects in a new special issue (171 CE5) of its Civil Engineering journal.

These range from a waste-to-energy plant with a ski slope on the roof to a snow cooling system, an underground roundabout made of rock and the world's biggest microscope.

Sustainable energy

Hulgaard and Søndergaard (2018) start by describing a novel waste-to-energy project in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The Amager Bakke facility, the largest project of its kind in Scandinavia, combines ultra-high energy efficiency and environmental performance.

Care has been taken to integrate the project into the city, both in terms of appearance and by providing public recreation facilities – including a ski slope – on the roof.

Continuing the energy theme, Moe (2018) reports on an innovative cooling plant at Oslo airport.

It uses snow cleared from the runways during winter to help cool the recently enlarged airport terminal buildings in the summer.

The plant worked satisfactorily in 2016 and 2017 and is expected to improve following optimisation of snow storage.

Subsea crossings

From air transport we move to road and rail, with Pedersen and Brøndum (2018) describing the concept design for the Fehmarnbelt fixed link between Denmark and Germany.

Due to open in 2028, this €7 billion mega-project is an 18 km long immersed tube tunnel with a four-lane motorway and a two-track railway.

Demanding requirements from the owner for availability, maintainability and safety have led to a number of innovative design solutions.

On a somewhat smaller scale, Samuelson and Grøv (2018) then cover two new subsea tunnels being built in the Faroe Islands.

There are already 20 road tunnels in the islands which, together with hydropower tunnels, equate to about 1·5 m of tunnel for every inhabitant.

The majority of these economically vital tunnels are in basalt and constructed using drill and blast.

Underground transport

Staying underground, Andersen et al. (2018) describe the four-track Holmestrand railway station, believed to be the first high-speed rail station constructed in rock.

Keeping waiting passengers safe from the noise and aerodynamic effects of 250 km/h through trains required complex modelling and installation of noise barriers, acoustic ceilings, relief tunnels and pressure doors.

Back in Copenhagen, Falbe-Hansen et al. (2018) describe the extensive monitoring of existing structures undertaken as part of the construction of the new Cityringen Metro.

The project, comprising 15·5 km of twin bored tunnels, 17 stations and five shafts, passes under the dense urban area of the city centre including many sensitive heritage sites.

It is due to open in 2019.

Light rail and neutrons

Bergen in Norway has opted for a light rail transport solution, stage 3 of which is described by Sherry (2018).

Completed in 2017, the newly opened 7·8 km section was designed by a project team spread across seven countries using a fully integrated three-dimensional building information model.

In the final paper, Stenman et al. (2018) describe design and construction of what will be the world's biggest microscope.

Due for completion in 2023, the €1·8 billion European Spallation Source at Lund in Sweden is a neutron source which will allow investigation at molecular level in a number of scientific fields.

The project entails complex coordination of end-user and regulatory requirements in terms of structural performance, radiation safety and integration of large bespoke specialist scientific equipment.

  • Andrew Martin, principal bridge engineer at COWI