Construction jobs regularly make the top ten most dangerous jobs in the world. As architects and ancient civilisations imagine impossible ‘visions’, each taller and more brilliant than the last. Do they ever stop for a moment to consider the poor sods who actually have to put the whole thing together?
“Sorry are you sure you want a revolving restaurant AND a hanging garden at the very top? Okay so let me get this right, no straight lines allowed anywhere in this building at all?”
Cue months of difficult and dangerous work in realising some of the most famous and historic buildings of our time and at the end there aren’t many of us who can name any of the men and women who risked their lives getting it done. So next time you refuse to change the water barrel on the water cooler, or pick up a few reams of paper for the printer, for fear of putting your back out, just spare a thought for some of the workers involved below.
While there are many dangerous construction projects involving skyscrapers, this one stands out largely thanks to this iconic picture from 1932. It demonstrates the sheer bravery of the eleven builders perched on the narrow beam having a break, only it’s no ordinary break at 256 meters above street level. Taken in New York during the construction of the art deco GE Building, this photo is rumoured to have been a staged shot to promote the Rockefeller Center. Staged or not, it doesn’t make these guys any less bad-ass. These dudes have NO safety harnesses or nets to catch them and it’s a long way down. Safety standards during the great depression era were not exactly up to scratch, but few refused to take a job due to safety fears or lack pay when there would be many an intern ready to jump in and work for free or next to nothing. Thank god things have changed aye?
The fact that this temple in the Shanxi province in China is built into a sheer cliff face is impressive enough but add to that the fact it was all started some 1,500 years ago, AND the original was made by one man alone. Well, it’s quite humbling what some people manage to get done and maybe just a tad intimidating too. *turns tv off*. He also had the world’s laziest kids. Never lifted a finger to help him. Pfffft.
Metéora is Greek for “middle of the sky” or “suspended in the air”. You can just imagine the builders rolling their eyes to the heavens when this concept was proposed to them. It consists of six monasteries built on top of rock pillars near the Pindus Mountains in central Greece. If you’re wondering just exactly how these monasteries were put together in such an inaccessible location, well the belief is held that the founder of the first monastery did not actually climb the rocks, but was carried there by an eagle. So y’know, that’s how.
Paro Taktsang/ Tiger’s Nest
Another lovely monastery perched on the edge of a mountain without leaving much room for security to secure the perimeter. This temple known as the ‘Tiger’s Nest’, is built into the cliff in the Paro Valley, Bhutan and legend dates it back in 1692. It was good enough for the “Second Buddha” of Bhutan who is said to have meditated there, after a (friendly) flying tiger dropped him off. Construction would have been slow and treacherous given the slippy and steep two-hour climb to get there but at least it was a nice place for the workers to relax before the descent back down.
The Great Pyramids of Egypt
It was long, long ago. There were many pyramids built and many were oh-so-tall. It was very hot and there were no cranes and definitely no diet coke breaks. The rocks were heavy and did we mention they were tall? You get the drift. Thousands of people were involved in the building of the pyramids, including unskilled slave labourers. They worked in a production line, dragging the rocks from local quarries and had to deal with the frequent plan changes during the build, as a Pharoah would decide to increase the size or relocate the inner tomb. It was not nice work, and sadly many people died during the building of these ancient wonders.