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During the course of civilisation, mankind has always had to find a way over bodies of water. At first, we swam, soon we began building boats until eventually, someone decided to build a bridge.
Bridges come in all shapes and sizes and serve a multitude of purposes nowadays. Some carry traffic, some carry water. Some go over water, some go over obstacles, so go over chasms. Here we are going to take a look a 5 completely different and completely unique bridges that serve varying purposes around the world.
Pont Du Garde Aqueduct – France
We’ll start with an amazing feat of engineering created by the Romans around 50 AD. In order to supply Nimes with water, Roman architects tapped into an underground spring in Uzes which is about 31 miles away and built an aqueduct to bring the water to Nimes.
In order to get the water over the Gardon river, the Romans used over 21,000 cubic metres of rock which weighed about 50,400 tonnes. Materials used in the construction of the Pont du Gard were obtained from the Estel quarry, situated roughly 600 m away from the monument on the Gardon’s left bank. The rock found there is a soft coarse yellow limestone, referred to locally today as 'Pierre de Vers'.
Another astonishing fact about this bridge is that even though it was built 2,000 years ago, the engineering precision involved mean that the difference in height from one end of the bridge to the other is only one inch.
Øresund Bridge – Denmark/Sweden
Standing at approximately 16km long, the Øresund Bridge is a bridge, an artificial island and a tunnel. With the rise of industrialisation and internationalisation in Europe, the idea of a fixed link between the Danish capital of Copenhagen to the Swedish city of Malmö became a reasonable way of thinking.
Construction began in 1993 and was completed only 7 years later in 2000 when the bridge opened to the public. As a result, the Øresund Bridge has created a region with a population of 3.7 million inhabitants.
Linking the bridge and tunnel is the man-made island of Peberholm which was constructed from the material dredged from the Øresund seabed to accommodate the bridge piers and the tunnel. Most of the bridge structures, including the piers and spans, were built on land and towed out by large floating cranes. Only the pylons were cast ‘in situ’.
The flora and fauna on the island have been allowed to develop freely and undisturbed and has become a haven for biologists. The Lund’s Botanical Association has identified more than 500 different species of plants and the island serves as a popular breeding ground for birds as well as habitat for the rare green toad.
Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco
We couldn’t do this list without arguably one of the most iconic bridges in the world being in it. Apart from being one of the most photographed bridges in the world, The American Society of Civil Engineers has named it one of the Wonders of the Modern World.
At the time of its construction in 1937 it was the longest suspension bridge in the world and held that title for 27 years until 1964. Each year it receives over 10 million visitors who come to see its tremendous 746-foot tall towers, sweeping main cables, signature International Orange colour and Art Deco styling.
At its highest point, the bridge reaches a staggering 746ft above the water and suspends the roadway at 500ft above the water. It stretches about 1.2 miles across the Golden Gate Strait connecting San Francisco to Marin County.
Rolling Bridge -London
Built on the Grand Union Canal in London, this quirky little bridge was completed in 2004 as part of the Grand Union Canal office & retail development project at Paddington Basin, London. The structure of the rolling bridge consists of triangular steel segments, hydraulic actuators and lightweight deck; it was made at Littlehampton welding on the Sussex coast and floated through the Grand Union canal, then put together with the hydraulic system at Paddington.
Standing at only 12ft long, this bridge pales in significance when compared to the other massive bridges in this list. However the sheer brilliance of its design makes it a memorable bridge and one worth visiting in real life. It appears to be a normal steel and timber footbridge when open – until it needs to get out of the way. Then, rather than breaking and lifting up as a rigid element, the Rolling Bridge curls until its two ends meet. The bridge is transformed into an octagon that stands on one side of the canal, without a trace of a bridge on the other bank.
Langkawi Sky Bridge – Malaysia
The only bridge on this list that doesn’t span a body of water. Instead this 125-metre curved pedestrian cable-stayed bridge is located about 660 meters above sea level on top of the Machinchang mountain and gives unprecedented views of the Malaysian Rainforests and the Telega Tujuh Waterfalls.
Measuring at 125m in length, the structure ranks among the world’s longest curve suspension bridges and constructing it was not an easy feat as the solutions had to factor the following critical elements; structural balancing from a single point (top of the pylon), optimal weight management and load distribution, pre-fabrication of bridge and on-site installation. The entire bridge, in all its elements had to be lifted to the top of the mountain by helicopter and was later assembled to its current position. The bridge only took 12 months to build at a cost of $1.2 million and opened in 2005.
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