Dam - architectural type definition


A dam is an engineering structure designed to stop or control the flow of water. It is often used to store water, create reservoirs, generate electricity, irrigate, prevent flooding or provide drinking water. There are many different types of dams, each with its own characteristics and uses.


Here are some of the main types of dams

Gravity dam: This is the most common type of dam. Its construction relies on a mass of concrete or other high-density materials that act by gravity to hold back water. An example is the Great Wall Dam in China.

Arch dam: This type of dam relies on the use of an arch or arches to transfer water forces to vertical bases. It is a popular type of dam because of its strength and stability. An example is the Hoover Dam in the United States.

Filter dam: This type of dam consists of multiple layers of permeable materials that retain sediment but allow water to flow through. It is mainly used to control erosion and maintain water quality. An example is the Asua-Garaf Dam in Spain.

Earthen dam: This is a type of dam that consists of earth, stones and other natural materials. It is often covered with vegetation to increase its stability. An example is the Tarbela Dam in Pakistan.

Extension Dam: This type of dam consists of moving parts that can be opened and closed to control the flow of water. An example is the Lower Gate Dam System in the Netherlands.



The precursors to dam construction were ancient civilisations such as ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, which built simple reservoirs and irrigation canals. However, the development of dams as advanced engineering structures dates back to recent centuries. Many well-known structures were built in the 19th and 20th centuries.


The most popular and important dam structures in the world include.

Three Gorges Dam - is located on the Yangtze River in China and is the world's largest gravity dam. It is used for electricity generation and flood protection.

Hoover Dam - located on the Colorado River in the United States. It is a high-powered arch dam that provides electricity and controls the flow of water.

Asua-Garaf Dam - located in Spain, it is one of the largest filter dams in the world. It is used to generate electricity and collect drinking water.

Tarbela Dam - located in Pakistan on the Indus River. It is an earth dam with a huge capacity and is primarily used for electricity production and irrigation.

Karuna Dam in Brazil - is a gravity dam built on the Paranaiba River. It is one of the largest in the world in terms of concrete volume and provides electricity.


It should be noted that there are many other important and impressive dam structures around the world, each with their own unique characteristics and significance.

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