Lucky Knot Bridge, Changsha, China
Bridges are some of the world’s most magnificent marvels of engineering, connecting cities and even countries. But bridges have also featured some of the most innovative design. According to a Transportation Research Board Special Report on the Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation, many bridges are often designed to withstand storms that have a probability of occurring only once or twice every 100 years. And then there are some bridges—the ones that curl, tilt or even shoot water—that are simply cool. Click through the slideshow above to see the world’s most unusual (and amazing) bridges.
- Lucky Knot Bridge, Changsha, China
Unveiled to the public just last week, this knot-shaped, ribbon-like steel pedestrian bridge crossing the Dragon King Harbour River in the Chinese mega-city of Changsha was designed by NEXT architects. The Lucky Knot bridge, which is 606 feet long and 78 feet high, was inspired by the principle of the Mobius ring and the traditional Chinese folk art of knotting. The bridge’s looped design features three footpaths that wind up and down, connecting two parks and offering stunning views of the river, the adjacent Meixi lake, the surrounding mountain range and the city of Changsha.
- Circular Laguna Garzon Bridge, Uruguay
Located on Uruguay’s southern coast, the new ring-shaped bridge across Laguna Garzon was built to replace a raft crossing between the cities of Rocha and Maldonado. Designed by architect Rafael Viñoly, the curved design was chosen to force drivers to slow down, according to TechInsider. The bridge also features two pedestrian walkways to take in the view. While the raft crossing previously only allowed two cars to cross the lagoon, this new circular bridge allows 1,000 vehicles to pass at a time, reports Amusing Planet. Its construction is also expected to improve coastal development along the city Rocha.
- Twin Sails Bridges, Dorset, England
Opened in April 2012, the Twin Sails Bridge is a double leaved bascule bridge spanning the Backwater Channel in Dorset, England. Designed by architect Wilkinson Eyre, the bridge features two 75-foot-tall triangular lifting leaves, both powered by hydraulic rams that can open the bridge up to 15 times a day to allow for the passage of boats through the channel. In its closed position, the bridge is completely flat, but when the two triangular spans are lifted, the leaves resemble the sails of yachts. According to Amusing Planet, it takes two minutes for the bridge to fully open.
- Eshima Ohashi, Japan
Bridge or “roller coaster?” The Eshima Ohashi Bridge, a concrete road bridge, spans a mile across Lake Nakaumi in Japan, linking the cities of Matsue and Sakaiminato. But what gives it a thrill-ride factor is the fact that it rises so ships can pass underneath, according to the Daily Mail. It has a gradient of 6.1 per cent on the Shimane Prefecture side and 5.1 per cent on the Tottori Prefecture side. But looks can also be deceiving. When seen from a distance at its side, from start to finish, the bridge actually reveals a gradual incline, not the sharp 45-degree angle it appears on photos, according to the New York Daily News.
5. Dragon Bridge, Vietnam
Long a symbol of power and fortune in Asia, dragons are seen all over the continent — from dragon statues adorning temple structures to dragon ink paintings hanging in homes. But Vietnam takes the dragon motif to a whole new level when it unveiled its 2,185-foot-long Dragon Bridge, located in the city of Da Nang, in 2013. The steel, dragon-shaped bridge, which spans the River Han, literally breathes fire from its mouth. The fire-breathing show takes place every Saturday and Sunday at 9 p.m., according to CNN. The bridge is also illuminated by more than 2,500 LED lights which treat spectators to a dazzling light show.
6. Island in the Mur, Austria
Is it a bridge? An island? A floating platform? Many consider Murinsel (or Island in the Mur) in Graz, Austria to be all three. Designed by American architect Vito Acconci, the Murinsel is a steel-and-glass structure that links the two banks of the Mur river. But more than just a footbridge to get to the other side, the Murinsel also features an artificial island with curves and twisted shapes that form a half-opened seashell. The “shell” shelters a floating cafe, a children’s playground and an amphitheater (complete with wave-like benches) that hosts events, according to the official Austrian tourism website.
7. Rolling Bridge, England
Every Friday at midday, pedestrians and tourists stand back to see a four-minute spectacle unfold across the Grand Union Canal in Paddington Basin in Central London. The award-winning Rolling Bridge curls up out of the way and into an octagon shape to allow boats to sail in and out.
Typically, opening bridges have a single rigid element that fractures and lifts out of the way. The Rolling Bridge, which was built in 2004, opens by slowly and smoothly curling until it transforms from a conventional, straight bridge, into a circular sculpture which sits on the bank of the canal, according to the website for Heatherwick Studio, which designed the structure. The bridge, which has a motion most would actually call “curling” rather than “rolling,” consists of eight triangular sections hinged at the walkway level and is connected above by two part links that collapse towards the deck under the control of hydraulic pistons, says the Daily Mail. The bridge can be stopped at any point of its journey.
8. Lego Bridge, Germany
One glance at the bridge that crosses Schwesterstraße in the North Rhine-Westphalian city of Wuppertal, Germany and you would think you were transported to Legoland. The Lego Bridge (or Lego-Brücke) may look like it was made from the Lego bricks, but look again. The concrete beam bridge, which carries a railway line, was actually painted to just look like Lego bricks. In 2011, graffiti and street artist Martin Heuwold repainted the bridge in the style of Lego bricks after he was commissioned by the city of Wuppertal to transform the bridge into an “eye-catcher,” according to a press release. Danish manufacturer Lego approved the use of the design.
9. Living Root Bridges, India
A form of tree shaping creates incredible natural, suspension bridges in Meghalaya, India, the rainiest place on Earth. The tree roots are trained by the local Khasi people to grow through betel tree trunks which are placed across the gap, until the figs’ roots take root on the other side. This process can take well over a decade before the bridge is fully functional and then over time the bridge grows and strengthens, according to Inhabitat.
10. Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain, South Korea
The Banpo Bridge in Seoul, South Korea may be the most multifunctional bridge in the world. The span, which crosses over the Hangang River, is actually a two-tiered bridge. Banpo Bridge stands on top of the Jamsugyo (Submergence Bridge), which was designed to be submerged in water during the rainy season and accommodates two lanes for cars, a pedestrian walkway and a bicycle lane, according to Visit Korea, the official tourism website. In 2009, the Moonlight Rainbow Fountain was added to Banpo Bridge, making it the world’s longest fountain bridge and the site of a spectacular water and light show, with 380 water jets, which shoot 190 tons of recycled river water per minute.