The Pearl River Delta is one of the world’s busiest commercial corridors, connecting ten of China’s burgeoning trade cities with the South China Sea. The Delta also happens to be a pretty complex piece of coastline, whose meandering rivers, inlets, and shallow patches necessite dozens of new infrastructural projects every year (the region will be home to the world’s longest bridge when it’s completed in 2016).
The developers of a new business district in the Chinese city of Zhuhai (traditionally known as the “Chinese Riviera” for its proximity to Macau) recently held a design competition for five bridges that will connect the future business district with the rest of the city. 10 Design and Buro Happold have unveiled their winning scheme for the main “gateway” bridge that will connect the new district and the rest of Zhuhai.
The Infinity Loop Bridge is named for the ribbon-like structural members that wrap around the bridge’s six lanes of traffic. The architects describe it as “a rational structure that makes a strong formal statement.” They’re referring to the two looping parabolic arches that give the bridge its distinctive asymmetrical shape. The double suspension arches split the bridge’s loads in half, while accommodating an abnormal coastline. Tied together, the sculpted steel arches form a kind of structural Möbius strip, similar to a double figure-eight that signifies prosperity in China.
Below the main concrete traffic deck, bike and pedestrian lanes cantilever over the water. Though these types of bridges are often built for a lifespan of sixty years (typical for a rapidly developing economic zone), 10 Design and Buro Happold have specified materials and details that will double the Bridge’s longevity. They hope it will remain a vital piece of Zhuhai’s infrastructure for more than a century. The Bridge will go into construction early next year, and the architects expect to complete the project by 2014.
One other upside of the their looping design? No maniacal teenagers attempting this.