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China Plans ‘Vanishing’ Bridges

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

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When it comes to their size and placement alone, bridges are usually pretty hard to miss. But a trio of new bridges planned in China are actually intended to create the illusion of becoming “invisible” amid their surroundings.

The project, planned for Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in the Hunan Province, was awarded to French firm Martin Duplantier Architectes through a competition seeking ideas for a new walking trail, according to architecture and design site designboom.

China glass bridge trio
Photos: Martin Duplantier Architectes

Reflective materials like stainless steel, planned for three bridges in China's Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, are meant to reflect the area's natural surroundings. Elements like net are also incorporated to give the sense of floating in midair to those brave enough to try it.

Three bridges on the site will make use of materials that reflect the surrounding environment and give visitors the sense of being suspended in midair.

The park is a UNESCO World Heritage site that served as inspiration for the Hallelujah Mountains in the 2009 movie Avatar, technology news site New Atlas reported.

This isn’t the first bridge project in Zhangjiajie to allow visitors a view into the surrounding area through the bridge itself. The Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge—the world’s longest and highest glass-bottomed bridge, designed by Israeli architect Haim Dotan—opened in August.

Reflective Steel, Stone

According to reports, the bridges will incorporate materials such as mirrored stainless steel, black stone that becomes reflective when wet, and net to achieve the optical effect of being enveloped by their surroundings

China elliptical bridge

One of the bridges planned by French firm Martin Duplantier Architectes uses stainless steel to reflect back the rock formations. A hole in the structure to provides a view downward, and a net offers the visitors a chance to hang out in the gap.

One bridge, shaped like an elliptical disk, will not only use stainless steel to reflect back its surroundings, but also provide a view beneath the bridge through an off-center hole in the structure. Moreover, the hole provides access to a strong net area where daring visitors can sit above the chasm.

Another bridge contains a standard walkway for travel across the gorge on one level, while beneath it a net stretches from one side to the other, inviting walkers to stretch out and take advantage of the sensation of floating in midair.

The third bridge, called the “water mirror,” incorporates a 2-centimeter (0.8-inch) layer of water on a decking area of black stone to create a reflective effect.

stone bridge

The "water mirror" bridge uses a black stone that becomes reflective when wet, in addition to glass sides, to give visitors the sense of walking in space.

But this bridge will contribute even more to its natural environment as, every seven minutes, spray nozzles on the structure will create artificial clouds among the mountains. The temporary mountain mist will then settle on the stone deck to become part of the reflective surface again.

Project in Progress

The project is moving ahead, according to Martin Duplantier Architectes, with surveys underway and construction slated for completion in 2018. The firm will be partnering with Daqian Landscape Architects on the venture. Additional project details are not currentlly available.

The estimated budget for the project is slated at €5 million (about $5.3 million).


Tagged categories: Architecture; Asia Pacific; Bridges; Design; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Glass; Infrastructure; Latin America; North America; Program/Project Management; Stainless steel

Comment from Gary Burke, (12/20/2016, 10:26 AM)

these are very cool!

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (1/2/2017, 11:18 AM)

Interesting and innovative

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