This Hooped Bridge is High-Tension Math

Illustration for article titled This Hooped Bridge is High-Tension Math

Earlier this year, a design competition was announced for a new pedestrian bridge in Salford, England. Called the Salford Meadows Bridge competition, and sponsored by the Royal Institute of British Architects, the actual winning design will be announced at the of November.

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Until then, though, a trickle of interesting submissions has been popping up on designboom, including the—sadly—non-winning proposal seen here: an "elliptical bridge" designed and rendered by Penda.

Illustration for article titled This Hooped Bridge is High-Tension Math
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Penda's (largely unbuilt) work is typified by a graceful use of repetitive geometric elements and lots and lots of curves—there's quite a bit of Bjarke Ingels' influence kicking around in there, but their work also shows an impressive and exciting attention to detail at a variety of scales, from exploring how small, triangular units can fit together to form benches to massive and towering sprays of bamboo.

Illustration for article titled This Hooped Bridge is High-Tension Math
Illustration for article titled This Hooped Bridge is High-Tension Math
Illustration for article titled This Hooped Bridge is High-Tension Math
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The "Blossom Gate" proposal for Eckbank East by Penda.

Their "Cola Bow," an arch made from 17,000 repurposed soda bottles, is a particularly smart repetition of a basic element—the plastic bottle—to form a colorful and swooping outdoor roof, almost an aboveground tunnel for the city.

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Illustration for article titled This Hooped Bridge is High-Tension Math
Illustration for article titled This Hooped Bridge is High-Tension Math
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Illustration for article titled This Hooped Bridge is High-Tension Math
Illustration for article titled This Hooped Bridge is High-Tension Math
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The "Cola Bow" by Penda.

I've thrown some of the more interesting images of their work into this post.

Illustration for article titled This Hooped Bridge is High-Tension Math
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Illustration for article titled This Hooped Bridge is High-Tension Math
Illustration for article titled This Hooped Bridge is High-Tension Math
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A Calatrava-esque "Campus Landmark" for Shenzhen Southern University of Science and Technology, by Penda.

But, of course, it's the proposed bridge in Salford that first caught our attention.

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Illustration for article titled This Hooped Bridge is High-Tension Math

The suspension cables and the giant, off-angled ring they'd be attached to form a huge mathematical object hanging in space, a beautifully confusing structure to see and, presumably, an equally compelling to experience spatially.

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Illustration for article titled This Hooped Bridge is High-Tension Math
Illustration for article titled This Hooped Bridge is High-Tension Math
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Although there is apparently no chance at all that this will actually be built in Salford any time soon, here is at least one vote for someone to build this thing elsewhere—and an enthusiastic call to see hypothetical suspension bridge designs continue to play with unexpected sources of stability, include rings, knots, bows, and arches, mathematical models disguised as urban infrastructure and pinned down across rivers and parks like rare butterflies.

All images courtesy of Penda via designboom.

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DISCUSSION

theghostofjimmadison
The Ghost of James Madison's Rage Boner

I'm not a civil engineer, but that design looks problematic. If I'm understanding it correctly, it looks like about 2/3 of the span would be suspended while the other 1/3 would be supported. It seems to me as if that could cause problems in windy conditions, or with thermal expansion, since part of the bridge could sway easily while the rest would not. Presumably you would need to build some extra flexibility into the supported section. I'd be interested in any input from actual engineers.