A National Health Service team took just nine days to transform the ExCeL exhibit hall in London, England into a massive emergency medical facility dedicated to treating COVID-19 patients. The Nightingale Hospital opened with 500 beds on 3 April, with space to scale up to 4,000 beds as needed. The project also developed an instruction manual that captured lessons learned, providing a template for other hospitals built to treat coronavirus patients.
9th Most Influential Project of 2020
After a five-week shutdown, Volkswagen reopened the world’s largest auto plant, creating a coronavirus roadmap for its company and the automotive industry. The German automaker developed walkway diversions, distance markers on floors and Plexiglas partitions to promote social distancing among the 63,000 workers. The project plan, published on Volkswagen’s website, was downloaded more than 120,000 times by suppliers and other companies across the globe.
5th Most Influential Project of 2020
Construction on the world’s largest offshore wind farm began in January in the North Sea near Yorkshire, England. The US$10 billion joint initiative between Equinor and SSE Renewables will generate enough clean energy to power 5 percent of the U.K.’s electricity demand—or 4.5 million homes. The 3.6-gigawatt Dogger Bank Wind Farm project, slated to begin drawing power by 2023, will rely on a futuristic fleet of 600 turbines, said to be the biggest and most powerful in the world.
33rd Most Influential Project of 2020
Hours after flames tore through the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in April 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron vowed the 800-year-old cathedral would be restored in time for the city’s 2024 Olympics. To reach that ambitious goal, the renovation team must stare down budget and environmental obstacles. But one debate was settled in July: Macron declared that Notre Dame’s signature timber spire—which some proposed to reimagine with stained glass or copper—would retain its original design.
31st Most Influential Project of 2020
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called it “Europe’s man on the moon moment.” With an ambitious goal to be the world’s first climate-neutral continent, the European Union in December 2019 unveiled a comprehensive roadmap of actions required across economic sectors. Leaders also offered financial and technical assistance to those most disrupted by the move to a green economy, pledging to mobilize at least €100 billion from 2021 to 2027.
After suspending play in March, England’s Premier League rewrote the playbook for relaunching professional sports in the age of COVID-19. The world’s most-watched football league resumed matches on 17 June with no fans in stadiums, strict health protocols for teams, and players and officials kneeling to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Of the 22,133 tests of players and club staff over the 15 weeks of the season, only 20 came back positive for COVID-19.
Seeing more people walk and ride bikes during the pandemic, U.K. government leaders launched a £2 billion program in May to ensure the trend continues long after the coronavirus subsides. The government will build bike lanes, wider sidewalks and some bus-only corridors in England, aimed at achieving a double dividend of lower carbon emissions and lower risk of COVID-19 spread.
Designed by Populous, the new 62,303-seat stadium in north London, England, which opened in 2019, breaks the mold with the world’s first dividing retractable pitch, revealing a separate field below for American football games. Other wow factors include heated seats, a roof designed to amplify stadium sound, pillar-free concourses and unique relief: 84 percent of the stadium’s toilets are for women.
Natural gas operator Snam and Italian pasta maker Orogiallo tried out a new recipe: using hydrogen fuel for industrial production. In February, the team installed tanks of a hydrogen and natural gas mixture to an existing gas line used at the noodle maker’s facility. Snam’s larger emissions-reducing dream could include using hydrogen across its 25,000-mile (40,234-kilometer) web of transmission lines.
French museum management company Culturespaces partnered with architectural firm Brochet Lajus Pueyo to transform a former base for Nazi submarines in Bordeaux, France into the world’s largest digital arts center. The dazzling light and sound experience, which opened in June, has stringent hygiene and social-distancing protocols for visitors. The online-only ticket sales, temperature checks at the entrance and mask-wearing requirements could help other public exhibitions around the world adapt to the coronavirus era.