How Was That Built?: The Stories Behind Awesome Structures

How Was That Built?: The Stories Behind Awesome Structures

By Author / Illustrator

Roma Agrawal, Katie Hickey


Non Fiction

Age range(s)



Bloomsbury Publishing PLC








Join Roma Agrawal, the award-winning structural engineer who worked on The Shard, for an exciting behind-the-scenes look at some of the world's most amazing landmarks. 

Meet the extraordinary people who challenged our beliefs about what's possible, pioneering remarkable inventions that helped build the Brooklyn Bridge in the US, the Pantheon in Italy, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the Shard in England and the Sapporo Dome in Japan. Discover the ingenious methods engineers have come up with to enable us to build underground, underwater, on ice and even in space. And learn about the impact different forces and materials can have on a structure by carrying out your own engineering experiments from the 'Try it at Home' sections.

Beautiful and detailed illustrations by Katie Hickey, including cross-sections, skylines and close-ups of engineering techniques in action, provide unique and illuminating perspectives of our most awe-inspiring constructions. Get ready to see the built world around you like never before!

Q&A with author Roma Agrawal



Have you every wondered how they built the Shard, the Pantheon or the Katse Dam? Or how structures are built underwater? Or why there are so many different types of bridges? Or how building will change in the future? Well, this book will answer all of those questions and more whilst introducing you to the engineers who created some of the most spectacular structures spanning all seven continents on Earth.

Visually stunning, this is a must for budding architects and engineers everywhere that takes us from beneath London's streets to outer space tracking the amazing structures that have been built under, on and above Earth. Roma Agrawal takes complex engineering tasks and explains them in a way that is easy to understand, especially when combined with Katie Hickey's extraordinarily detailed illustrations.

Whether building tall, long, clean or strong, each design type has it's complexities and complications explained clearly along with how engineers solved the issue to create buildings and structures that both do the job and look stunning. 'Try at home' sections bring the science to life with experiments to test different concepts, such as why steel is stronger, how a caisson works and how flat sheets of glass are made.

There are so many different uses in school for this book as topics including materials and forces are covered brilliantly, and for non-fictions fans, this is one that can be returned to time and again as there are so many amazing facts, there is no way to take them all in in one reading.

80 pages / Reviewed by Nicki Cleveland, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 9+


How Was That Built? is fascinating non-fiction in picture book disguise, with story-type narratives that flow throughout like a river ebbing through a city. For budding engineers and those interested in the intricacies of how some of the world's most awe-inspiring buildings, tunnels and bridges have been created, from mere aspirations to reality, look no further than How Was That Built? 

Stunning illustrations by Katie Hickney breath life into buildings that we use daily but haven't considered how they come to be, captivating the reader and immersing them in the wonderful world of how these magnificent creations are built.

Author Roma Agrawal draws threads together to provide a patchwork of knowledge from geography, history, maths and science. Spanning seven continents, each double-page spread breaks down concepts into bitesize chunks, allowing the reader to dip in and out of the book. Analogies are used to explain otherwise difficult concepts, making this a great book for children to pour over or be used as a support to classroom teaching.

Clear and concise explanations make this the perfect digestible book for children to understand the buildings and infrastructure from design to reality. A thought-provoking, must-have book for the classroom bookshelf or library.

80 pages / Reviewed by Kelly Buxton, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 7+


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