10 January 2012
A team of Arup engineers has travelled to Mixia Village in Yunnan Province, China, to build an Arup-designed bridge with student volunteers.
The bridge was built as part of Arup's ongoing collaboration with Wu Zhi Qiao Charitable Foundation. The Arup team spent the period from 21 December to 5 January at the site, working with the student volunteers from the Kunming University of Science and Technology, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
The bridge provides safe journeys for the commuting villagers between Mixia and its surrounding villages. Mixia Village is located at the southern end of Yunnan Province, close to the China-Vietnam border and is home to 2,000 people. River flooding would often damage the makeshift bamboo bridge that they previously relied on.
To withstand the floods, the bridge has a 20m clear span with a vertical clearance of 6m. It has been built out galvanised steel to ensure durability and longevity, with rocks and stones from around the site used as counterweights.
Challenges including moving steel members manually along the mountainous track as the heaviest single component reached 200kg.
Arup held a company-wide design competition to come up with a culturally sensitive and highly sustainable bridge. The winning scheme was adopted as the basis for detailed design. After several site visits, the design was fine-tuned. A small team of volunteers also travelled to steel fabrication and assembly sponsor S-couvrot's factory in Shanghai for a mock-up of the bridge assembly process to ensure smooth construction on site.
The student volunteers found that the project gave a valuable opportunity to work with and learn from professional engineers, and link textbook learning with real-world application. "The construction trip gave me a clearer picture of the whole design and construction process,” said Vincent Tse from the School of Architecture at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “I come to understand that a good design requires a thorough consideration of all the aspects — not only an impressive form but also the ease of construction and its integration with the surroundings, for example."