A group of architecture students from the University of Hong Kong has built the Wind and Rain Bridge to provide a meeting place for residents of a rural community in southern China.
Linking two river banks together on the outskirts of Peitian, a village in China’s Fujian province, the bridge was inspired by the region’s traditional wooden buildings and designed by course leader Donn Holohan. It was constructed without the need for mechanical fasteners and is formed using interlocking beams.
“Designed solely in wood joinery inspired by traditional Chinese techniques, the bridge is a reinterpretation of the traditional covered bridge, which functions as a public space and a pedestrian connector,” said the team.
The bridge was constructed without the need for mechanical fasteners and is formed using interlocking beams.
The team of 70 assembled the 265 wooden components used to make the bridge under the watch of a local carpenter.
While the sides of the bridge are left open, the roof structures of the bridge see one hipped and the other an inverted pitch, which shelter the bridge from the elements. The bridge connects two fields on either side of a river and is part of the post-flood reconstruction efforts in the area, which had experienced severe flooding two years ago.
While the sides of the bridge are left open, the roof structures of the bridge see one hipped and the other an inverted pitch, which shelter the bridge from the elements.
The floods had washed away connections between small rural communities in southern China and the team aimed to help the community rebuild both its social and physical infrastructure, by re-linking two pieces of farmland while providing a meeting place.
“This project aims to reconnect Peitian village to that historic network of routes that link these isolated settlements,” explained the team.
“Opening outward towards the village, the bridge negotiates the variable terrain and provides a place of respite from Peitian’s changeable climate.”
But the digital technologies used to design the complex timber structures are hindering their creation said the team.
“Critical to this process is the integration of digital design methodologies, which allow for the planning and testing of complex assemblies,” they said. “The high level of training and labour associated with these assemblies has been a barrier to the continued viability of complex, long-span, timber structures in China and other developing and transitioning economies.”
But all is not lost as arhictects are increasingly finding how digital fabrication could improve the future of wooden construction, as seen with Giulio Masotti from Wood-Skin.