Shaping the World with Allplan: The World’s Biggest Infrastructure Projects

February 8, 2023

Infrastructure is the lifeblood of society – enabling the many services that keep people, goods, and economies moving. From the roads, railways, bridges, and ports that provide connectivity to the dams that ensure sufficient water supplies, infrastructure plays a vital role in everyday life. It’s no surprise then that infrastructure projects are some of the largest construction sites in the world – and Allplan has been used to help design a number of these landmark structures.

The Longest Tunnel

At 57km long, the Gotthard Base Tunnel is the longest tunnel in the world. It runs from the Swiss town of Erstfeld to Bodio, connecting the industrial centers of Belgium, Italy, Germany, Holland and Switzerland.

Opened in 2016, it took 17 years for the mammoth project to be completed. The tunnel – which at 2,300 meters deep is also the deepest in the world – consists of two separate tubes, each nearly 8 meters in diameter. The tunnel boring machine was equally immense, spanning the length of 450 meters – or nearly four consecutive football fields.

Gotthard-Basistunnel_©_AlpTransit_Gotthard_AG_NEU© AlpTransit Gotthard AG

Allplan Engineering was used for the geometric optimization of the tunnel lining and formwork, which saved 89,000 cubic meters of concrete. The 3D model was also helpful for planning the complex spatial cable runs, or wherever there were intersections, as it enabled better visualization of the tunnel. In addition, Allplan was particularly useful for planning the concrete reinforcement and ensuring it would fit on site.

A Massive Lock

The New Lock Terneuzen (Nieuwe Sluis) in Terneuzen, Netherlands is one of the biggest locks in the world and is located on an important shipping route between Rotterdam and Paris. The works will enable the lock to accommodate larger vessels when it opens in 2023, being 427 meters long, 55 meters wide, and 16.4 meters deep.

Terneuzen_Lock_2_©_Van_der_Kloet_Foto_&_Videoproducties_und_Nieuwe_Sluis_Terneuzen_NEU© Van der Kloet Foto & Videoproducties and Nieuwe Sluis Terneuzen

Many different complex operations are being carried out at the same time, including channel widening, reclaiming land, constructing new quay walls and a logistics centre, as well as building a temporary channel to keep the waterway operational during the works.

Terneuzen_Lock_©_Van_der_Kloet_Foto_&_Videoproducties_und_Nieuwe_Sluis_Terneuzen_NEU© Van der Kloet Foto & Videoproducties and Nieuwe Sluis Terneuzen

BIM using Bimplus has been instrumental in helping deliver this ambitious program successfully. Everyone on the project was able to view and interact with the live design model, supporting better collaboration and enabling improved efficiency and accuracy while saving time.

Europe’s Largest RCC Dam

Built on the Botan Stream of the Tigris River in Turkey, the new Çetin Dam and Hydro-Electric Power Plant (HEPP) was completed in April 2020. This massive roller compacted concrete (RCC) dam is the largest of its type in Europe, holding a volume of over 4.7 million cubic meters and standing at 165m tall. The dam generates enough energy (1.174,74 GWh) to supply the needs of six Turkish provinces.

Baraj_Govdesi_1_a© Su-Yapi

The complex project – which included landscaping, dam and power plant construction, and a new bridge and highway – would require hundreds of drawings to cover the entire scope. In addition, it was subject to tight time constraints, so accuracy was critical.

DJI_0059a© Su-Yapi

Allplan enabled the rapid creation of the construction drawings, thanks to the ability to quickly derive sections, views, and details from the 3D model. The automatic updates made changes easier to manage, and the submittals approvals process was streamlined thanks to the included Open BIM support.

Su_kotu_819_35© Su-Yapi

The Longest Construction Site in Switzerland

Until its completion in Summer 2021, the Lake Zug East infrastructure measures were the longest construction site in Switzerland, spanning 15 kilometers of works. Comprising of four sub-projects, the measures included 1.7 kilometers of double rail track extension, complete renewal of the remaining rail track, and the renovation of 90 engineering structures, as well as maintenance of roadways, protective structures, and tunnels – one of which had to be practically rebuilt.


Allplan Engineering was used for the planning, which could be difficult at times due to various site constraints. For example, the double track extension had areas where the slopes had inclines of up to 35 degrees, which presented challenges in terms of logistics, geology, and necessary supporting structures. This was much easier to visualize and develop solutions for using the BIM model in Allplan.

Zugersee_Ost_2_©_ARGE_ZUGO© ARGE ZUGO

A Record-setting Bridge

The Queensferry Crossing in Scotland, UK is the longest three-tower, cable-stayed bridge in the world, with a length of 2.7 kilometers. Completed in 2017, it was the largest infrastructure project in Scotland in a generation, set a world record in 2013 for the largest continuous underwater concrete pour, set another world record for the longest free-standing balanced cantilevers in the world (before the deck was connected to the rest of the structure), and also currently holds the record for the tallest bridge towers in the UK, at 210 meters tall.

iStock-1325711691_NEU© iStockphoto LP / Nick Yeats

The reinforcement of the individual pylons had to fit precisely within the pylons, which tapered upwards. To design such a complex structure, the structural engineer used Allplan Engineering to create a 3D reinforcement model. Not only did this provide an accurate fit, but it also helped rule out any clashes between different elements and helped achieve the delivery deadlines.

Shape the World with Allplan

Allplan has helped plan, design, and construct many landmark infrastructure projects, having been specifically developed for architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) projects of any size. Download a free, 30-day trial of our civil engineering design software to see how the range of useful functions – such as automated quantity take-off, easy change management, and powerful reinforcement modeling tools – can transform your next infrastructure project.

You liked this article? Then subscribe to our newsletter.