Modern Parametric Bridges

Excellent engineering and science would inevitably incorporate aesthetic elements. Few individuals would consider a boring solid colored steel spanned across from land A to B as an item pleasing to the eyes.

Bridges as an architect would put it – as a connector; a messenger to forward exchanges between two grounds. It has to be safe, withstand the heights and open-field weather, and least to accommodate pedestrians’ physics. New parametric bridges are now made possible using modern technology, sophisticated calculations and innovative materials.

The following modern bridges have been selected as the designs are bold, serve as tourists’ landmarks and may have some interesting facts which most of us have taken for granted.

The Glass Bridge, China
Since the early 2000s, there has been an influx of international architects establishing their projects in China. The famous glass bridge in Zhangjiajie, Hunan was designed by Haim Dotan Architects & Urban Designers ; an Israeli company. The glass bridge is the longest and tallest glass-material bridge in the World; 385meters (length) x 6 meters (width).

Zhangjiajie is a renowned tourist site famed for its spectacular mountains, and may have inspired several kung-fu and ancient martial arts Chinese television shows. Visitors would find it is impossible to ignore the strong and chill winds. It was a very bold move to create a structure that did not disturb the scenery and the long lateral structure has to be subjected to harsh weather conditions.

There have been reports that a few glass flooring had shown cracks and it is hard to distinguish who is to be blamed for the expected. Materials are subjected to weather erosion and man-made caused breakage. Every material has a weakest point. And if an incident happened to hit the weakest point at a probability of 0.01%, well it is just pure luck.

Glass has to be cut and bounded according to the required size for the flooring, hence the obvious that a small probability that a crack can occur.

Maybe there is a reason on why looking down at great heights is not such a good idea. Overall, it is an impressive glass bridge and has been standing since its completion in 2016. A safe visit would be when there are not too many people crossing the bridge and posing for selfies/we-fies. The bridge is said to accommodate up to maximum 800 visitors at once.

The Helix

The Helix, Singapore
The bridge resembles the shape of the DNA structure. Since its completion in 2010, it has been a landmark that connects the big ship in the sky – Marina Bay Sands Hotel & Casino; the ArtScience Museum , and the cultural segment in Singapore.

Refer to the Map, below. Heading North and North West from the Helix Bridge are Arts & Cultural museums. There are many modern architectures in Singapore, and prior to The Helix there has not been a bridge that interlaces with a scientific theme to it. The bridge lights up in different colors when the sunsets. It is 280m in length and accommodating up to 16,000 pedestrians.


Tourists’ sites: Train, Cycle or Walk
Millennium Bridge aka Swaying Bridge

Millennium Bridge, London, UK

You might wonder why the Tower bridge or the London bridge was not selected for this feature. In fact, there are many bridges over the River Thames in London. I reckon we have known enough of those two, and the Millennium Bridge has an impressive view and a lesson to be learnt too. The bridge is 320 meters long and, it connects views of St Paul’s Cathedral and Tate Modern Museum.

Living along the River Thames is a good joy as there are always exhibitions and new art products nearby. Borough market is awesome during the summer months. However, the River Thames can be packed with tons of tourists over the weekends.

For a few moments after its completion and opening in 2000, the Millennium Bridge was known as the Swaying Bridge. The bridge did not fall apart, but it swayed in a left-to-right and right-to-left directions.

Prior to the swaying trauma, there was little or no knowledge known about pedestrians’ walking oscillations. Perhaps it is why there is a standard press-release among architects and engineers to declare the maximum capacity of visitors on the bridge at any time.

Why did the bridge sway?

The answer is fairly simple. If there are only 10 individuals crossing the bridge, each individual has his/her very own walking pace. This walking pace or frequency of footsteps would be unique and considered as random. Here comes the but….

When there are many individuals and by far way too many, thousands of individuals constantly crossing the bridge, and the bridge is so packed that everyone begins to walk at the same pace. Left, Right, Left , Right, Left Left, Right Right, left , right…. The same frequency results to a consistent oscillating energy that vibrates the structure. The bridge must then channel this energy to an action or to be stored in a energy compartment. Because the latter does not exists, hence the bridge swayed. The bridge did not fall apart and that was impressive enough.


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