China will, by the year 2014, have a spectacularly designed bridge in its new commercial hub of Zhuhai called Shizimen Central Business District (CBD). This gateway bridge will connect Shizimen Canal with Pearl River Delta facing the upscale residential building of the CBD on one side and, is in keeping with the government’s plan to make the CBD an exciting waterfront destination with an emphasis on sustainable development.
The architect of this much awaited feature bridge in South China will be 10 Design, an international studio of architects and designers. 10 Design (often referred to as 10), along with the creative engineering team of Buro Happold, won the design competition for the bridge beating 15 other competitors including some well known international architects and engineers.
The bridge, according to the proposed design, will be 200m long over the waterway and will have an “undulating ribbon of structure that wraps around the six lane road deck in a continuous sculptural loop form,” informs an agency spokesperson. “At low levels, the loop cradles the road deck, with the structural ribbon and then soars upwards to create two triangulated arch forms,” she adds.
One of these triangular gateways is primary and the other, secondary. They support the road deck over two separate distinct spans through suspension cables. The primary gateway is about 100m high and diagonally crosses the deck of the bridge, thus celebrating the crossing of vehicular and pedestrian traffic and the meeting point of the canal with Pearl River Delta.
The Infinity Loop Bridge will be 200m long over the waterway and will have an undulating ribbon of structure that wraps around the six lane road deck in a continuous sculptural loop form.
“As a gateway entry to both the island and the canal from the main waterway, the design of the Infinity Loop Bridge demands a striking and dynamic contemporary bridge that addresses both these visual axis/vistas, but at the same time it must be structurally rational. Our design utilises a delicate, dynamic but structurally rational, sculpted continuous ribbon loop. The loop creates a series of archways and gateways to addressing both the entry to the canal/marina and the crossing point to the island,” explains Gordon Affleck, Design Partner at 10 Design..
The complex coastline conditions posed challenges in creative designing though when the team set out to create this elegant design. According to David Emmer, 10 Design’s Design Associate, these complex coastline conditions “created an odd and asymmetric span”. But the team soon overcame this problem: “We realised that by tying two simple parabolic arches together in a single ribbon form, we could split the bridge into two simpler spans. We could thus keep a rational structure while making a strong formal statement – when reflected off the water the bridge created a double 8 figure, a sign of prosperity in Chinese culture.” The highlight of this bridge, when constructed, will be that the continuity of its loop structure will be visible from the opposite mainland shoreline to the west, and that it will appear as a dramatic free standing infinity loop.
The structure of the bridge that is expected to last 120 years will be designed to allow individual cables to be replaced without closing the bridge.
Buro Happold’s Hayden Nuttall, happy with the team winning the contract, exclaims, “It is great when a team really pulls together to create an eye catching design that is underpinned by elegant and efficient engineering. The bridge is quite unique as it is supported by arches that rise and fall above and below the deck in the form of a single sinuous loop. This unique form creates a number of challenges, both geometrically and technically, but we have already explored and developed various solutions to create this fluid structure and we are excited about taking this project forward with 10 Design and the Client.”
Four more secondary bridges will cross the canal at this site located in the south of China’s Hengqin district. 10 was placed second and third in the competition for two of them. “The five bridges to be designed are not only for enhancing the traffic connections between the core, amenities and back up area, but also to provide iconic structures. The special bridge design, together with the water channel and green belt alongside the river, will form a high quality feature landscape and improve the environmental value of the south area,” says the spokesperson.
Bridge 1 (The Infinity Loop designed by 10 and Buro Happold), at the furthest North of the future new CBD district in front of the proposed leisure marina will span almost 200m from East to West and will be highly visible from Zhuhai Shizimen North district and beyond from Macau. The longest and the most exposed of the five new bridges, it will act as a real and symbolic entrance gate to the core of the future CBD.