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Last edited 10 Dec 2021
The five weirdest materials in construction
When you think of the construction materials used in civil engineering, what springs to mind? If you think along the lines of steel, concrete and glass, you wouldn’t be far wrong. But did you know that there’s a whole variety of materials that engineers can use in construction?
The M6 toll road was built to address heavy congestion in Birmingham and the Black Country. Since its inauguration, it has played a significant role in reducing pollution and congestion in the Midlands.
It turns out that pulped paper is the ideal construction material for roads. According to Richard Beal, project manager for the M6, the books provided the perfect material due to being highly absorbent.
But fans of the romantic publisher needn’t fear – only end-of-line or damaged copies were harmed in the making of the M6.
 The Wonder of the World constructed from sticky rice
Rice isn’t just for dinner. It's been used to construct some of the most famous sites of the civil engineering world – including The Great Wall of China. If you’re wondering how this is possible, sticky rice was added to the mortar that labourers used to build The Great Wall of China, making the wall extra solid and durable.
The vital role rice played was only discovered when scientists at Zhejiang University in China decided to investigate the mortar. They found that in addition to lime was another tasty ingredient: sticky rice.
 The Buddhist temple made out of beer bottles
The Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew, or the Temple of a Million Bottles, is one of Thailand’s most popular tourist attractions.
In 1984, local Buddhist monks were growing concerned about the increasing amount of sea littering.
The solution? They asked the locals to bring their empty beer bottles, and construction of the temple commenced. The Temple of a Million Bottles was built using a combination of green Heineken bottles and brown Chang bottles.
But they didn’t stop there.
After successfully constructing the main temple over two years, they went on to build mosaics out of bottle caps, in addition to a crematorium, local water towers, a prayer room and raised bungalows, used as housing for the monks.
 The Palace of Salt
The Palacio de Sal, or the ‘Palace of Salt’ in Spanish, is a hotel made entirely out of salt blocks. That’s one million 14-inch salt blocks, to be precise. Nestled on the shores of the sublime Salar de Uyuni, The Palace of Salt boasts a restaurant, spa, saltwater pool and 16 private rooms.
Yet, The Palacio de Sal is not the only construction that uses salt to tremendous effect.
Who said construction materials couldn’t be both bizarre and practical?
in 2021, the Icehotel celebrated its 31st birthday. Over the years, it has seen contributions from over 500 artists worldwide, who have quite literally helped shape it into the hotel it is today.
If you’re incredibly fortunate, you might even catch a glimpse of the spectacular northern lights.
Now that’s what we call cool.
This article originally appeared on the ICE Community Blog portion of the ICE website. It was written by Jessica Beasley, Communications Executive and published on 3 December 2021.
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