Exploring the strangest bridges in the world

Following up on a previous post on the world’s largest bridges, which you can find on the Kenny Slaught WordPress page, today’s post will focus on bridges that stand out for being strange or weird. These bridges are spread out around the world and stand out for different reasons from where they were built, to what material they were built or the design or use they have.

How they retract

Let’s begin with the Rolling Bridge, which is located in the UK. It was designed by Heatherwick Studio and was built in 2004. It’s built right over London’s Grand Union Canal and with an innovative design is the walkway that can retract and curl into an octagon. Its hydraulic system allows this bridge to be the only one that curls back to allow boats to sail down the canal, as opposed to being lifted as traditional bridges do. The hydraulic system is built into the handrail and is quite a complex system.

folding-bridge-unfolds_rolling-bridge_uk_architecture
Image courtesy of SNappa2006 at Flickr.com

In France, the Seine, which is one of the major waterways used for commercial purposes, there is a bridge that also proves to be a little unconventional when it comes to its retraction system. Pont Gustave-Flaubert is 282 feet tall, making it the tallest lift bridge in Europe, and has a distinctive retractions system that lifts the decks straight up, instead of parting in the middle like most.  It is lifted anywhere from 30 to 40 times a year, giving way enough space for boats to pass through. One of the reasons of having this “twin roadway” concept is to benefit the river’s ecosystem, allowing just enough light to shine through the water.

pont-gustave-flaubert_bridge_architecture
Image courtesy of Dvelec Photography at Flickr.com

In London, this is not the only bridge with a unique retracting system. The Gateshead Millennium Bridge connects Gateshead and New Castle across the River Tyne, it seems normal enough, until its hydraulic system pivots the whole bridge until it reaches a 40-degree angle. It takes about 5 minutes to raise completely allowing boats to come down the Tyne, and some say it resembles an opening eyelid.  

This bridge is named after Dutch poet, J.J. Slauerhoff and stands across the Harlinger Vaart River in the Netherlands. The Slauerhoffburg, or the Slauerhoff Bridge, is known as a tail bridge and was built back in 2000. It has a fully automated dual hydraulic system that lifts the arm, that normally sits on the side of the road, and lifts a part of the bridge, allowing boats to pass along the river. This is one of the quickest types of designs that can easily allow bridges to adjust to the traffic, on the road, and on the river, while reducing road traffic due to its efficiency.

Design

Sweden and Denmark are joined by the Oresund Bridge which stretches out to 4.8 miles in total. This bridge is extremely unique, as it is not only a conventional cable-stayed bridge, but it arrives at a man-made island that is the entrance to the underwater portion which has 4 lanes and a double-track railway. It is said that the design was chosen because it was actually the cheapest and most efficient way of connecting Denmark and Sweden without obstructing boat traffic.

Bridges are not only built to help connect two locations for vehicles. Pedestrian bridges are also spread out around the world, and some have such unique designs and are located in such amazing places that allow the spectators to view the world from a completely different angle. This is the case of the Langkawi Sky Bridge, which is on the top of Mount Mat Cincang in Malaysia and offers a spectacular view from 2000 feet above sea level. This 6-foot wide bridge can only be reached with a cable car and has such unique shapes, curves, and decks that it allows visitors to have a 360 view of Langkawi.

In California, the Sacramento River also has a quite iconic design, doubling as a functioning sundial. It’s no wonder why it was baptized, the Sundial Bridge. This pedestrian bridge was built in 2004 and is 217 feet tall. Another unique characteristic is that the bridge has glass panels across the bridge, offering visitors a truly unique experience and view of the river.

This last one truly stands out due to its outstanding and unique design. Also, a pedestrian bridge, the Henderson Waves bridge, is rightly so named after its exterior design. It is about 900 feet long and even though the interior is pretty traditional with decks to gaze at nature and benches to enjoy the beautiful sites of Singapore’s Mount Faber Park and Telok Blangah Hill Park, the exterior is an amazing wave-like structure that lights up with LED lights when the nights falls. It is the tallest pedestrian bridge in Singapore and is a must when visiting these magical parks.

night-at-henderson-waves-singapore_bridge_architecture
Image courtesy of Eustaquio Santimano at Flickr.com
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