08-09-2020

A glass bridge in China by UAD

The Architectural Design & Research Institute of Zhejiang University Co., Ltd (UAD),

Lianzhou Qingtian Tourism Development Co., Ltd.,

Jiubei Town, Guangdong, China,

Bridges,

Glass,

Landscaping,

The glass bridge in the Huangchuan Three Gorges Scenic Area designed by the Architectural Design & Research Institute of Zhejiang University Co. Ltd. (UAD) has set the local benchmark for high-tech engineering, and at the same time looks as if it has sprung forth from the natural environment.



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A glass bridge in China by UAD Bridges are symbolically potent infrastructures since they connect and enable communication between two otherwise inaccessible geographic points. And the glass bridge in the Huangchuan Three Gorges Scenic Area designed by the Architectural Design & Research Institute of Zhejiang University Co. Ltd. (UAD) stands as an engineering feat, a landmark, in Lianzhou, in Guangdong province. This glass-bottomed bridge is suspended at the height of 201 metres and is 8.8 metres wide. At 526.14 metres long, it has broken the Guinness World Record as the world’s longest glass-bottomed suspension bridge. Despite these numbers and the record, the bridge structure itself blends seamlessly into nature, proving that the engineering skills of humans, with innovative construction techniques, can still go hand-in-hand with our natural environment.
Of course, the design team were faced with a rather daunting challenge. This wasn’t just developing a bridge in a stunning environmental context, it also needed to respond to the conditions of Guangdong in southeast China, where summer typhoons are frequent.
The glass-bottomed suspension bridge by UAD spans the cliffs above the Huangchun River, the main tributary of the Beijiang River system in the Pearl River Basin and overlooks the largest cluster of waterfalls in Northern Guangdong. To reduce its visual impact, and also create a unique experience for visitors, the bridge is paved with three layers of 4.5cm-thick, tempered laminated glass. This ultra-clear glass has a visible transmittance of 99.15%. 
The glass, the guardrails made from curved stainless steel bars, the bridge tower and the main red cables together form a built landscape that combines solid and void, modern and classical. When the designers dubbed this local landmark a “transparent corridor”, they weren’t joking, and it even gives you the idea of a dragon soaring up towards the sky. The engineering solutions adopted by the Architectural Design & Research Institute of Zhejiang University Co. Ltd. (UAD) were also developed in response to the typhoon risk, with excellent wind resistance. The design team performed wind tunnel testing and finite element simulations to assure the safety and optimum wind resistance of the bridge. They studied the primary frequency and modes of vibration and identified specific design parameters to optimize the design of the bridge and its future maintenance. 
Since its completion in January, the bridge has quickly become a new local landmark. It is a Covid-compliant attraction for large numbers of tourists, supporting the tourist industry in this area.
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That is an important goal for this project by UAD, which springs from respect for the territory and nature but also showcases the creativity and courage of architects to overcome limits, with innovative engineering techniques and materials. This way, the glass suspension bridge of UAD has been a driving force behind reviving the natural environment while helping the zone’s economic development.

Christiane Bürklein

Design firm: The Architectural Design & Research Institute of Zhejiang University Co., Ltd. (UAD) (http://www.zuadr.com/
Design team: Xie Xu, Sun Liangfeng, Wang Weilong, Dong Weiwei, Wu Pu 
Location: Jiubei Town, Lianzhou, Qingyuan City, Guangdong Province, China
Completion time: January 2020
Photos and video: Lianzhou Qingtian Tourism Development Co., Ltd.

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