Mind & Matter


Shanghai Diary: The Meandering Way

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Qinpgu Pedestrian Bridge by CA-DESIGN. Photo by Blaine Brownell.


Despite all the attention on the World Expo 2010, there are also significant, recently built structures worth visiting in other parts of Shanghai. The pedestrian bridge at Qingpu Plot-18 is one such construction, located southwest of the city center in an area undergoing rapid development.

Designed by CA-DESIGN, the bridge provides pedestrian and bicycle access between two neighborhoods previously separated by a 50m-wide river. Taking a cue from traditional Chinese garden architecture, the covered bridge does not strike a single, direct line between the two sides of the river, but instead forms a bent path that encourages occupants to slow down and take in views from multiple vantage points.

The bridge structure operates as an inhabitable, asymmetrical steel truss that springs from two points that differ in their horizontal and vertical alignment. The traverse path formed by the bridge coincides with a staggered bending moment diagram, and the steel sections of the truss vary in density based on the amount of anticipated shear stress.

According to the architects, a “bridge should provide for a dedicated space on the river, a room over the water, more than merely acting as an engineering device that solves a communication problem.” The Qingpu bridge thus links two shores of dissimilar character via a singular, occupiable structure that celebrates these differences—as well as the spirit of Chinese landscape design.




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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.