China is to open the world’s longest glass bridge in the mountains of the Zhangjiajie Forest national park in the south-eastern province of Hunan.
The traditional problem with using glass as a structural material has been its habit of undergoing catastrophic failure with no warning, coupled by its brittle rigidity–
Designed by Israeli architect Haim Dotan, the bridge creates the illusion of walking without visible means of support 400m above the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon.
Its 370m span shattered the earlier record, set by another tourist attraction in Hunan: the 300m long glass bridge in Pingjiang county.Â
The traditional problem with using glass as a structural material has been its habit of undergoing catastrophic failure with no warning, coupled by its brittle rigidity.Â Â
This can be countered by using laminations and alloying the glass with other materials, such as palladium.Â
To ameliorate this problem, and to make the experience of walking on the bridge even more interesting, the Pingjiang span is allowed to sway in the wind.
The attraction comes complete with reassuring guides who usher across any tourists who become frozen with fear before reaching the other side.Â
The artist’s render above shows how the architect imagines people crossing the bridge. This is how they actually cross the existing Pianjiang bridge that opened last year (source: Youtube)
The Zhangjiajie bridge is expected to come in useful for the media industries. The national park is a frequent filming location for China’s brand of epic cinema, and is also credited with inspiring American director James Cameron’s movie, Avatar.Â Â
As well as a unique film set, the bridge is expected to be used for photo shoots and to function as a runway for fashion shows.Â Â
The attraction, which will open in July, will be accompanied by another attraction for those wishing to take the extra step of hurling themselves into the scenic void: the world’s highest bungee jumping station, to be located in the middle of the single span.