Around the world with COWI


Do you also have that strong urge to fly, but got nowhere to fly to? Don’t worry. This travel guide will take you on a safe, virtual journey around the globe without violating any travel restrictions or risking contracting the coronavirus.

Over the years, COWI has been involved in numerous impressive projects in significant or overlooked locations. Among them are “the most beautiful bridge in the world” (guess where), sacred temples, exotic multipurpose dumpsites and transport hubs. 

Fasten your seat belt, click the interactive map below and check out some spectacular or special engineering projects worth a visit.


The bridge that kickstarted it all 

Photo: COWI

Location: Northern Jutland, Denmark.
What is it? The Aggersund Bridge was COWI's first major bridge, kickstarting COWI reputation as bridge experts. It was also Denmark's first bridge designed by a private engineer.
COWI's role: Design and supervision. 
Year of completion: 1942.
Why is it worth seeing: COWI’s founder, Christen Ostenfeld, broke the state monopoly on bridge building when he was entrusted the construction of the Aggersund Bridge. The bridge's superstructure is a so-called ‘Melan structure’, which Ostenfeld had learned about in Czechoslovakia. 
Fun fact: The bridge was a German stronghold in World War 2 because it was a junction for transports from Norway to Denmark and the rest of Europe. During the war, three large flak concrete bunkers were constructed near the bridge. The bunkers are open to the public.

Explore exotic marine life

Photo: Den blå planet

Location: Kastrup near Copenhagen, Denmark.
What is it? The Blue Planet is Northern Europe's newest and most modern aquarium, holding around 20,000 fish and sea creatures from every part of the world. 
COWI's role: COWI was consultant on the vortex-shaped building.
Year of completion: 2013.
Why is it worth seeing? The aquarium features an extensive water cleaning system that simulates environments from the cold rocky shores of the Faroe Islands to the Amazon River.
Fun fact: One to five times an hour, the many litres of water are circulated through various filters, and the surplus water from this sterilising process is UV-treated before being released into the sea. In this way, you avoid releasing microorgan¬isms without any natural enemies, which could result in uncontrollable propagation.

Back to nature

Photo: COWI

Location: Skjern, Western Jutland, Denmark.
What is it? The restoration of the Skjern River Delta was Denmark's largest nature restoration project.
COWI's role: Planning, design, environmental impact assessment, socioeconomic assessment, construction supervision.
Year of completion: 2003.
Why is it worth seeing? In the 1960s, the river was regulated and the wetland dried out to create new farmland. It had tremendous negative consequences for the wildlife in the area and led to poor water quality in the nearby Ringkøbing Fjord. A total of 2,200 ha of meadows and wetlands have since been restored in the floodplain, including the delta area. 20 kilometres of winding river have been restored, and the improved water quality have enhanced the conditions for many rare and endangered species – in particular the Atlantic salmon.   
Fun fact: The works included handling of about 3 million m3 of soil, and construction of three new bridges – primarily made of Scandinavian wood.


Church built by farmers and a troll

Photo: COWI

Location: Heddal, Norway.
What is it?  Heddal Stave Church is an old wooden stave church in the roman architectural tradition. Built in first part of the 13th century. 
COWI's role: Framework agreement on fire safety, condition assessment, and project management. 
Why is this worth seeing: It is a spectacular medieval church and a part of Norwegian cultural heritage.
Fun fact: The legacy says that the church was built in three days by five farmers. Already on the first night, all the materials were in place. On the second day, the spire was up, and on the third day, the church was ready. Legacy also has it that the builder who ended up building the church was a troll named Finn who lived inside a nearby mountain.

The most beautiful bridge in the world

Photo: Ragnhild Heggem Fagerheim / COWI

Location: Narvik, Norway.
What: The Hålogaland Suspension Bridge measures 1,153 metres in length and 179 metres in height. Planned and built between 2007-2018, it opened 9 December 2018. 
COWI's role: Feasibility study, detailed engineering and follow-up during construction.
Why is it worth seeing: It is a beautiful bridge at the Northern edge of Europe. 
Fun fact: It is the second largest suspension bridge in Norway, known among locals as “the most beautiful bridge in the world”.


Göta Canal dug by hand

Photo: Carl Schnell

Location: From Lake Vänern to the east coast of Sweden. 
What is it? Göta is one of the largest civil engineering projects ever undertaken in Sweden, spanning 190 kilometres and a total of 58 locks. Construction works started in 1810 and were completed in 1832. Around 87 kilometres were dug by hand. Project Göta Canal 2.0 is a five-year renovation project funded by the Swedish Government, during which large parts of the canal have been renovated and improved to comply with current dam safety regulations. COWI's engineers have participated in restoring and preserving the cultural-historical structure and repairing the quays. 
Year of completion: Ongoing.
Why is it worth seeing: The canal is one of Sweden's tourist magnets, and attracts about three million visitors a year.
Fun fact: Over the course of 22 years, no less than 58,000 Swedish soldiers participated in the construction of the canal.

Cool midnight sun

Entrance ICEHOTEL365 – Icehotel entrance under construction.  Photo: Asaf Kliger

Location: Icehotel 365, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden.
What is it? The Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi is the first hotel in the world built from snow and ice. Previously reconstructed annually at the onset of winter, it has now added a year-round installation that runs on solar energy, enabling the hotel to operate sustainably during the summer months as well.
COWI's role: The project was full of new challenges for COWI and called for broad know-how and rich innovation in the areas of construction management, project management, design, electrics, geotechnics, land, water and sewer. 
Completion year: 2017 
Why is it worth seeing: It is a unique experience to sleep inside an art exhibition surrounded by hand-carved art made of ice and snow. The new building uses the abundant summer sunlight to chill the ice suites. A large solar-powered cooling plant now keeps the hotel rooms cool despite the summer heat and midnight sun.
Fun fact: The Icehotel has a year-round temperature of minus five degrees, is cooled by the sun, and boasts 20 rooms, a bar and an art gallery. Everything in ice.


The Valley of Death

Photo: COWI

Location: Bay of Biscay, France.
What is it: The Saint Nazaire offshore wind farm will be located between 12 and 20 kilometres off the coast in the northern part of the Bay of Biscay and cover an area of 78 km². The site was selected thanks to the local strong and steady winds, and a shallow water depth between 12 and 25 metres.
Why is it worth seeing: The project is being developed as a part of the French government’s aim to increase the country’s renewable energy share of total consumption to 32 per cent by 2030. The 480 MW wind farm will ultimately generate the equivalent of 20 per cent of the Loire-Atlantique’s electricity consumption needs.
COWI’s role: Detailed design of monopiles.
Completion year: The wind farm is due for commissioning in 2022.
Fun fact: The Bay of Biscay is feared among sailors. It is home to some of the Atlantic Ocean's fiercest weather: Abnormally high waves occur and there are frequent and large storms. Also nicknamed “the Valley of Death” or “the Vomiting Venus, the seabed is home to countless shipwrecks.


The sound of music – and football

Photo: COWI

Location: London, the United Kingdom.
What is it: As part of the transformation of the Olympic Stadium, the original fabric membrane roof was
dismantled and replaced with a new roof spanning almost three times as far and covering an area twice as large as the original. The new roof covers every seat in the stadium and was designed to improve acoustics and heighten the spectator experience, reflecting the noise of the terraces, focusing the sound and projecting it towards the pitch. In order to preserve some of the Olympic Stadium’s unique identity, the iconic triangular lighting tower design that used to stand over the old roof was inverted and now hang underneath the new, larger roof.
COWI’s role: Erection engineering, and technical assistance during tendering, detailed design and construction.
Completion year: 2015
Why is it worth seeing? This is the iconic stadium where London’s 2012 Olympic Games’ opening and closing ceremonies were held. The stadium also hosted the 2017 IAAF World Championships, several 2015 Rugby World Cup matches, and a number of concerts for up to 80,000 spectators. Now it mainly serves as the home of West Ham United of the Premier League.
Fun fact: The stadium claims to have the largest cantilevered roof of its kind in the world

Iconic London skyline

Location: London, the United Kingdom.
What is it: A much-loved icon on the London skyline, and arguably one of the most recognisable bridges in the world, Tower Bridge carries more than 40,000 pedestrians and visitors across the Thames each day, and remains a key transport link for over 20,000 daily vehicle users.
COWI’s role: COWI completed a major intervention to restore a durable and high-quality running surface for all bridge users. As the steelwork under the carriageway had not been exposed for 54 years, the impact of water penetration through the worn bridge joints and surfacing was unquantified. The ten movement joints in the shore-spans had suffered significant deterioration and needed to be replaced, while water penetration through the masonry arches of the north and south approach viaducts required excavation of over 1,200 m³ of material around services within the footways before installation of a waterproofing system over a total area of approximately 3,325 m².
Completion year: 2017
Fun fact: In 1952, a bus driver Albert Gunter was driving a bus across the bridge when it started to open. Gunter put his foot down, allowing the bus to leap over the opening gap. He made it to the other side, safe and sound and was given the next day off for his bravery and quick thinking!

north america

Oculus – the heavy dove

Photo: COWI

Location: Manhattan, New York, USA
What is it? Oculus – the World Trade Centre Transportation Hub is a unique, iconic structure that serves over 200,000 people every day. Inspired by a pair of hands releasing a dove, the transportation hub pushes the boundaries of structural engineering.
Why is it worth seeing? It is a unique space that is unprecedented in modern railway station design. Designed by Santiago Calatrava and the Downtown Design Partnership engineers, the structure was extremely complicated to construct. It consists of two parallel arches spanning across a 91-metre long oval opening in the transit hall roof slab and reaches a crown height of over 30 metres.
COWI’s role: COWI was the erection engineer for the project, and installing the arch segments onto the vertical columns was like balancing an elephant on a tooth pick. Each of these segments weighs five tonnes.
Completion year: 2015.
Fun fact: The arches are supported by columns spaced approximately two metres apart – the same as the spacing between the columns of the Twin Towers.

Unique cultural heritage

Photo: COWI

Location: The Chacao Channel between Isla Grande de Chiloe (Chiloe Island) and mainland Chile.
What: Currently under construction, the Chacao Channel Bridge will be the first fixed connection between Chile’s mainland and the Island of Chiloé.
Why is it worth seeing: Known for its natural beauty and unique cultural heritage, represented by the UNECSO World Heritage designation for many of the island's wooden churches, Chiloe is a popular destination for national and international tourism.
COWIs role: COWI, in a consortium with local partner R&Q Ingeneria, is responsible for design review and construction supervision.
Completion year: Construction began in 2018 and is set for completion in 2023.
Fun fact: With a total length of 2,754 metres, once completed, the Chacao Channel Bridge will be the longest suspension bridge in South America.

Known from the movies

Photo: Claus Knuth

Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.   
What is it? The Lions’ Gate Bridge is one of Canada's national historic sites. It was built in 1938 and marks the entrance to Vancouver’s harbour, spanning the First Narrows of Burrard Inlet. At first, citizens in Vancouver rallied against the idea of a new bridge. They were concerned that it would damage Stanley Park, cause problems for the busy seaport or take away too much toll revenue from the Second Narrows Bridge. As one of two crossings between Vancouver and the communities to the north, it is of vital importance to the local economy. 
COWI's role: Owner’s engineer, detailed design of replacement of suspended deck, and design of ship impact protection.
Completion year: 2002
Fun facts: If the gate looks familiar, you have probably watched the Hunger Games, Rambo, American Psycho, La la land or another production from Lionsgate Films with the iconic bridge signature. 


Power to the people

Photo: COWI

Location: Karimunjawa Islands, the Java Sea, Indonesia.
What is it? Three stand-alone PV power plants. The project will provide power to the 2,000 islanders, mosques and fish farms on the small and remote islands of Parang, Nyamuk and Genting off the north coast of Java. Solar power will cover 95-100 per cent of the consumption of the villagers, though with a daily limit per family of 1.5 kWh! Among the many significant technical challenges was the fact that the site could only be accessed by smaller boats and that there was no heavy equipment available. 
COWI's role: FIDIC engineer.
Year of completion: 2019.
Why is it worth seeing? The project is part of COWI’s assistance to the Danish Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, in the implementation of environmentally friendly and sustainable energy pilot projects.
Fun fact: The islands are a popular destination for Scuba-diving. 

Turning waste into fuel

Photo: COWI

Location: Cilacap, Java, Indonesia.
What is it? A solid waste plant that sorts and dries waste and turns it into fuel for a local cement factory. The project reduces CO2 emissions, while managing a huge amount of waste that would otherwise have ended up at an open dump site. The plant processes 120 tonnes of waste a day.
COWI's role: FIDIC engineer, design review and international tendering.
Year of completion: 2019.
Why is it worth seeing? It offers huge benefits for the locals who live or work near the plant.
Fun fact: The project saw significant challenges such as heavy rain season and cooperation with public work engineers.

French Polynesia

Preserving paradise

Location: French Polynesia.
What is it? The Moruroa atoll preservation project. Seismic investigations of the atoll, assessing the consequences of the French nuclear testing in the 1960s and 1970s.
COWI's role: Geophysical investigations.
Completion year: Ongoing.
Why is it worth seeing? The atoll itself is beautiful and we want it to stay that way for many generations to come.
Fun fact: The COWI Minibuggy spent six total months in sea transport to and from Moruroa. It took COWI's geophysicist four days to travel to the field site and four days to get home.


A road to prosperity

Photo: COWI

Location: Pakistan.
What is it? The Sindh road is a 1,200-kilometre rural access road. Originally a dirt road, it was widened and coated with asphalt. Several new road bridges were also constructed along the road.
COWI's role: Feasibility studies, detailed design, contracting and supervision. It was a huge project that required 250 men for supervision alone.
Year of completion: 2009.
Why is it worth seeing? The road has had a huge impact on the local population. Now, they can bring their crops all the way to the markets and keep them fresh, without being dependent on the weather.
Fun fact: Even though it was not a part of the original project, COWI decided to make local road connections to the villages whenever the budget allowed.


Lotus petals made of concrete

Photo: Øyvind Ganesh / COWI 

Location: Delhi, India.
What is it? The Baha'i Lotus Temple was the first temple in Delhi to be fitted with solar panels, and some 20 per cent of its electricity is generated by solar energy. Like all Baha'i temples, its structure is a circular nine-angled shape. The design of the Lotus Temple in Delhi is based on a lotus flower made up of 27 free-standing marble petals arranged to form the nine sides of the temple, surrounded by nine pools of water. It has three layers of concrete petals. The central worship hall inside is 40 metres high and can hold 2,500 people. Despite the delicate design, it needed to be structurally robust to resist earthquakes that might occur in its 1000-year design life.
COWI's role: COWI acted as structural engineer.
Completion year: 1986.
Why is this worth seeing? The Baha'i faith teaches the unity and equality of all people and religions. The religion welcomes anyone into its temples and allows the texts of other religions to be read aloud or chanted.
Fun fact: The temple made it to the Guinness Book of World Records in 2001 as the most visited religious building in the world, surpassing even the Taj Mahal.


Sleep in the desert

Photo: COWI

Location: Tunisia.
What is it? The Dar Djerba Hotel Village is a hotel town in the desert with 2,500 beds. When finished in 1973, the Dar Djerba Hotel Village was one of the biggest of its kind in the world. The buildings are traditional Tunisian white bungalows.
COWI's role: Complete design of the structures, technical services and supervision.
Year of completion: 1973.
Why is it worth seeing? At the time, the hotel was considered one of the most luxurious. Besides enjoying the hotel restaurants and pools, the guests could entertain themselves in the nightclubs, cinemas and numerous kinds of water sports.
Fun fact: The hotel offered Arabic lessons.

Saudi Arabia

The world’s tallest freestanding flagpole

Photo: COWI

Location: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
What is it? The record for the world’s tallest freestanding flagpole was awarded to a 170 metres tall flagpole. The 500-tonne steel flagpole measures 4.1 metres in diameter at the base, with 45 mm thick walls, and tapers to approximately 2 metres in diameter at the top, with 12 mm thick walls. It was erected by crane in 12 segments and crowned with a ‘truck’ assembly, which allows the flag to rotate as the wind changes direction.
COWI's role: Independent design check including three permanent tuned mass dampers; ground investigation data interpretation; pile capacities evaluation; reinforced concrete pile cap assessment; wind response assessment; seismic assessment; steel structure assessment; and full-scale monitoring.
Completion year: 2014.
Why is this worth seeing? At 60 metres long by 30 metres deep (and weighing in at about half a tonne), the flag itself would cover about one third of the pitch at Wembley Stadium.
Fun fact: To give a sense of scale, the London Eye is only 135 metres tall – the flagpole is 170 metres tall!


Oman Royal Opera House

Photo: COWI

Location: Muscat, Oman.
What is it: The royal opera house is a modern concert venue for up to 1,000 visitors. The building draws on traditional Omani features and uses colonnades, terraces and sculptural tower forms finished in locally sourced stones and stucco. The eight-hectare site for the theatre was the beginning of a new urban quarter with a landscaped park, cultural souk, retail shops, museums and a village square.
COWI's role: Together with other sub-consultants, COWI provided the engineering consultancy for all structures, mechanical and electrical services, fire and life safety etc.
Completion year: 2011.
Fun fact: Among this year’s performances are the jazz legend Chick Corea, the ballet Onegin by the Bolshoi Theatre and the Oman Royal Opera’s own production of Mozart’s the Magic Flute.


Electrified transport to the future

Photo: Ejner Christensen / COWI

Location: Tanzania.
What is it? A modern railway connecting Dar Es Salaam with Morogoro. East Africa's first electrified standard gauge railway for 160 km/h. For the first time in over 50 years, Tanzania's transnational railway is being modernized and COWI is responsible for the design of 205 kilometres of track running between the cities of Dar es Salaam and Morogoro.
COWI's role: Surveying and mapping, operational plan and detailed design for tracks, maintenance workshop and a 2.5-kilometre viaduct.
Year of completion: Hopefully in 2020 (construction period is only 3.5 years).
Why is it worth seeing? It will increase the speed for passenger trains from 40 km/h to 160 km/h and it will be equipped with a modern European signalling system which took Denmark ten years to implement.
Fun fact: The new Dar Station was only supposed to be 250 m2, but after the Mombasa and Nairobi stations in Kenya were built much bigger, it now measures 10,000 m2 and is shaped like the Tanzanian gemstone, Tanzanite.