Gulou Bridge Waterfront: Timber Bridge connects the local cultural heritage with rural development
20 April 2023 Construction
The eye-catching 25-metre-long Gulou bridge in Jiangmen, China, forms part of an eco-cultural tourist resort for nature education, fishing, and farming activities. Hundreds of PEFC-certified wooden elements are bolted together to form the bridge, paying tribute to the traditional construction techniques employed in the rural villages of Southern China.
The striking timber bridge is one of many on Gulou Waterfront Resort. To differentiate it from urban construction and revitalise traditional rural culture, Chinese architecture practice LUO Studio adopted natural wooden materials to construct an ‘arched’ bridge.
Due to the geographical proximity to water, Gulou established the tradition of making use of a water system to dig ponds and form mounds for fishing and farming. Lots of bridges have been built to connect the areas segmented by water.
The design team created a relatively ‘closed’ corridor space on the timber bridge, which is different from other open landscape bridges in the resort.
The aims were to accentuate the transition from the ‘practical’ commercial street area to the ‘dreamy’ children's recreation area, allowing visitors to feel a sense of ceremony in the moving process.
The design of the bridge aims to make this transition a special experience. When crossing the bridge, pedestrians can see the elaborate wooden architecture and structural joinery, and the moving water under the bridge. Gaps in the roof create walls of sunlight, making this construction stand out from other open bridges.
PEFC-certified timber was used in structural elements such as the wall structure, roof, cladding, and flooring. Apart from the three main beams that form the underside, the structure is mostly made from small, regular lengths of pine.
“Small wooden components are interlocked and anchored to the three main arched beams, functioning as sub-beams on upper and lower levels,” said LUO Studio.
“In addition, the two ends of these sub-beams are combined with upward components to form a stable triangle of forces.”
This project was shortlisted for the PEFC-supported Best Use of Certified Timber prize 2022.
© Weiqi Jin