The Wuxi Harbour Bridge takes a slightly curving course across Lake Taihu in Dingshu Town, stretching almost 100 metres across the water to provide a crossing for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.
The bridge’s steel structure forms a series of triangular frames that are lined with a lattice of carbonised bamboo poles – a charring process that maintains the form and texture of bamboo while guaranteeing durability. Each of these bamboo trellises is designed to be removed and replaced when necessary.
The town sometimes referred to as China’s “clay capital” has a rich cultural heritage due to its abundant bamboo and its distinctive purple-coloured clay, which has produced thriving craft industries.
The architects, who are based at Southeast University in Nanjing, decided to included the material in their design as a reference to the region’s traditional bamboo processing techniques.
During the construction of the bridge, there was a collaborative effort between local bamboo craftspeople and the steel construction team to position and install the trelliswork.
The concrete edges to the bridge’s walkway have also been embossed with bamboo canes to imprint the texture onto the surface.
The twisting shape of the steel forms an archway under which pedestrians and traffic can pass. The bridge connects the Taihu greenway, a walking and cycling thoroughfare, and a recreational area in Lanshan Fudong.
As the light changes throughout the day, the lattice of bamboo casts shadows across the bridge.
“The undulant steel structure sprouting from both sides of the bridge, shaped like clasping arms, encloses the space for passengers and vehicles to pass through,” said the architects.
“The intertwining images of mountain, river, fog and wind fabricating the site are projected onto the form of the bridge,” they continued.
“Pedestrians can step onto the bridge alongside the bank of misty and ripply Lake Taihu, hearing gurgling water through bamboo nets, enjoying shifting scenes along with every walking step.”
China is home to several record-breaking bridges. The world’s tallest and longest glass bridge opened in the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park last year, and the longest sea bridge was built across Qingdao Jiaozhou Bay 2011.
In the southwest of the country, the recently opened Beipanjiang Bridge is raised 564 metres above the Beipan River – making it the highest bridge ever built.
Photography is by Jian Jiao, Xing Zheng, Shiliang Hu.
Architecture: Mimesis Architecture Studio
Lead architect: Jian Jiao
Design team: Xing Zheng, Tianchen Dai
Client: Construction Bureau
Construction team: Jiang Su Xiao Xin Steel Structure Engineering
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