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9 unusual engineering solutions for movable bridges
9 unusual engineering solutions for movable bridges

How do we imagine drawbridges? Usually, one recalls structures with a span that opens upwards, like the Palace Bridge in St. Petersburg. However, there are other engineering solutions as well. Obeying the fantasies of architects and designers, bridges go under the water, curl up or playfully "wink".

1. Rolling Bridge, Paddington, London, UK

Rolling Bridge collapsed

In London's Paddington district, an unusual bridge has been thrown across the Grand Union Canal, which can effectively curl up into an octagonal curl in a few minutes. When unfolded, it is an ordinary, outwardly unremarkable pedestrian path only 12 meters long.

But at a certain time, when ships pass through the canal, the structure is transformed. Under the influence of a hydraulic mechanism, one end of the bridge rises and the structure folds on the other side like a caterpillar. After the passage of the ships, the bridge turns around again, allowing pedestrians to cross to the other side.

2.Gateshead Millennium Bridge, Tyne River, UK

The backlight turns the Gateshead Millennium Bridge into an enchanting sight

The bridge between Gateshead and Newcastle is a beautiful and completely unique structure. It is the world's first tiltable crossing. The bridge was designed in such a way that nothing would interfere with navigation and consists of two steel arches that form a spectacular figure above the river. One of them has a pedestrian crossing and a bicycle path.

In the normal state, this part of the structure is practically parallel to the plane of the water, and the gap under the arch is sufficient for the passage of low-tonnage floating equipment. If a large ship approaches, the bridge makes a spectacular turn: the arches rotate along their axis by 40 degrees, taking a symmetrical position and freeze at a height of 25 meters above the water level. The maneuvering of the arches resembles a wink, for which the bridge was nicknamed "the blinking eye".

3. Slauerhoff Bridge, Harlinger River, Leeuwarden, Netherlands

Slauerhoff Bridge Rises So Fast It Earns The Flying Nickname

The design of the Slauerhoff bridge looks unusual and evokes associations with the Middle Ages, when the cannonballs were launched from a catapult. Only here it is not a shell that rises into the air, but a square platform with a section of road running across the river.

The bridge is in a difficult location and the lifting mechanism is triggered in a matter of minutes so as not to hinder shipping and land traffic. Local residents even nicknamed the bridge “flying” for the speed at which the platform was eroding.

4. Falkirk Wheel, Falkirk, Scotland

Falkirk Wheel - the world's only ship lift

The Falkirk Wheel fascinates with its futuristic design - it is the only elevator bridge in the world for the passage of ships between canals at different heights. The structure consists of two blades rotating around its axis, connected in pairs with two platforms attached between them. At the highest and lowest points, the sites join the banks of the Fort Clyde and Union canals. The ship floats into a container with water on the platform and the wheel makes a half turn, delivering the boat to another channel.

The blades make a half-turn, delivering the vessel to another channel.

5. Pont Jacques Chaban-Demals, Garonne River, Bordeaux, France

The Pont Jacques Chaban-Demals bridge linked the banks of the Garonne

The bridge, stretching over the Garonne, has a vertical lifting mechanism that smoothly moves the central span up and down, like an elevator. Four supporting towers take the weight of the movable segment and ensure that it is raised above the water surface to a height of 50 meters. This is a huge technical project, and as of 2014, Pont Jacques Chaban-Demals was considered the longest vertical lift bridge in Europe: the main span stretched as much as 110 meters in length.

Raising up to 50 meters allows sailboats with high masts to pass.

6. Bridge Fan, Paddington, London, UK

Bridge Fan - both an engineering structure and an art object

The Fan Bridge on the Market Square of the capital of England is an amazing project that successfully "crossed" the properties of an engineering structure and kinetic sculpture.

The five segments of the structure are connected by a hinge joint and, when set in motion, rise at different angles, according to the principle of a folding fan. The spectacle is mesmerizing, and it looks especially beautiful in the evening when the LEDs installed in the railing of the bridge begin to shine.

Bridge Fan folded

7. Submersible Bridge, Corinth Canal, Greece

Outwardly, the bridge is unremarkable

The Corinth Canal in Greece connects the Gulf of the same name and the Saronic Gulf and separates the Peloponnese from the mainland. Every year, tens of thousands of ships and yachts sail through its waters, so the engineers had a goal: to ensure the passage of land transport without interfering with shipping. The problem was solved by connecting the banks along the edges of the channel with two flooded bridges.

The Submersible Bridge goes under water as ships pass.

If necessary, the spans of structures go under the water by 8 meters, opening the way for ships. This approach fits perfectly into the existing conditions: the strait is too narrow to accept large ships with deep draft, but sailboats with high rigging easily pass.

8. Horn Bridge, Kiel, Germany

Horn Bridge looks like an industrial structure, not a bridge

The bridge that connects the shores of the Kiel Fjord is not impressive in terms of design and at first the residents were very dissatisfied with this structure. But now it is considered an achievement of engineering and is a tourist attraction of the city. The bridge is interesting for its unusual swing mechanism. The moving span consists of three segments, folding like an accordion in the shape of the letter "N". Likewise, the bridge transforms every hour, providing passage for ships.

The Horn Bridge folds like an accordion every hour.

9. Scale Lane Bridge, Hull River, Kingston upon Hull, UK

Scale Lane Bridge has an unusual shape that blends seamlessly into the urban landscape

And again, in our virtual journey across the bridges, we return to England. The structure connecting the banks of the Hull River is very unusual both in shape and in the design of the swing mechanism for the passage of ships. Outwardly, the bridge is very reminiscent of a giant comma, and it does not fold or rise, but turns with the pedestrians and cyclists on it. The structure is "carried" by wheels moving slowly along a radius rail and, while the structure is rotating, the "passengers" enjoy views of the river and the city.

The Scale Lane Bridge is the only bridge in the world that pivots with people.

One of the interesting features of the Scale Lane Bridge is an installation by artist Nayan Kulkarni. At the moment when the bridge begins to turn, bells overflow and flashlights turn on. The idea solves two problems at once - creative and practical, warning people about the beginning of the movement.

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