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Civil Works

What is considered civil works? 

Civil works are any construction developed by civilians (engineers, architects, builders, etc.) to be used for civilian purposes – that is, by the population of a city, region, or country. The term designates any permanent, separate, independent construction site (set of assets) whose aim is meeting the needs of a nation and increasing the quality of life in it.

Civil works comprise infrastructure for energy, transportation, housing, industry, commerce, recreation, etc.

What is a civil works project?

It is the document, or set of documents, that sets forth the design of civil works; it is on these that the work of architects, engineers, and designers of different specialties is done.

In a civil works project, the technical specifications, specific requirements, regulations to be followed, completion deadlines, budget, materials and technologies to be used, distribution and use of spaces, etc. are set forth.

How is a civil works project carried out?

Nowadays, a civil engineering project is a clear, concise document with a more or less set structure that follows a specific process. Broadly speaking, these are the phases of a civil project:

  1. Project idea: identifies the need or problem that the project must meet or address.
  2. Prior study or study of feasibility: this verifies that the project is really necessary and is technically and economically viable, identifies possible problems in execution, and defines possible sources of financing.
  3. Preliminary project: this is a more complete study than the previous one. It seeks to lay out the basic formulation of the project and define its objectives, analyzes the conditions of the project, evaluates different solutions and technical alternatives, outlines a general design (even without precise technical specifications), offers an accurate estimate of the costs, studies the economic feasibility, defines financing, and proposes the organizational, administrative and management structure.
  4. Informative project or basic project: deepens the studies from the previous phase. These contain the design, where the technical solutions, detailed plans, technical annexes, specifications, logistics, detailed budget, and the author’s signature are presented. This document is intended for public display; depending on the statements received, it is modified to give rise to the definitive construction project.
  5. Construction project or execution project: this is the informative or basic project with the pertinent adjustments. It also contains the review board’s endorsement, if needed.
  6. Bidding: the project goes to bidding or competition to determine who will carry out construction.
  7. Direction and execution of the works: this is the phase where the work is effectively built and which concludes once it is delivered.

What benchmarks are there in terms of civil works in Spain?

Ferrovial is a leading company in civil engineering construction in Spain, and it is also a great reference worldwide. It specializes in mobility and transportation infrastructures, as well as unique buildings, port and airport facilities, unique buildings, and works related to the production and distribution of energy.

Among its specialized companies is Ferconsa Instalaciones. Ferconsa is in charge of the design, assembly, and commissioning of civil works, as well as construction and industrial works. Ferrovial’s other specialized companies include those whose work is related to civil works, such as Ditecpesa (asphalt products), Tecpresa (post-tensioning of structures), and Edytesa (sliding formwork and heavy lifting).

Fun facts about civil works

  • The Panama Canal is considered the largest and most important civil engineering work of the 20th century. It connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean through the narrowest point of the isthmus of Panama. It has a global impact on the economy and transportation. Construction began in 1881, but it didn’t open until 1914. An extension was inaugurated in 2016. It is still as important as when it was first planned in the 19th century.
  • The Pyramids of Giza are one of the oldest civil works that are still standing today. Initially, they were intended to be as a cemetery, though today they are considered one of the wonders of the world.
  • The Puente de la Constitución 1832 (the Constitution of 1832 Bridge) is one of the most recent mega civil works in Spain. It connects Cádiz with Puerto Real, is 3 km long, and was inaugurated in 2015, after about seven years of construction.
  • The Eurotunnel and the Seikan Tunnel are the two largest underwater railway engineering works. The Eurotunnel connects France and England and runs 50.5 kilometers long (39 km underwater) at a depth of 40 meters. The Seikan Tunnel is located in Japan and connects the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido. It is 53 kilometers long (23.3 km of which are below sea level) at 240 meters below sea level and 100 meters below the seabed. Construction on the Seikan tunnel began in 1988, while construction of the Eurotunnel began that year and opened in 1994.
  • John Smeaton (1724-1792) is considered the first civil engineer in history. During the Industrial Revolution, he designed and built windmills and water wheels in England. He also built ports, lighthouses, and canals.

The International Space Station (ISS) is the most important civil work in space. Five space agencies work together on its construction and operation (NASA, the European Space Agency, the Japanese Space Exploration Agency, the Russian Federal Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency). Construction began in 1998, and in 2000, the first astronauts arrived. It orbits 400 kilometers above Earth and acts as a research center.

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