by Jerry ElengicalMar 16, 2022
Spanning the meandering waters of the Jianxi River in Sichuan, China, two symmetrical arches define the newly unveiled bridge by British architecture and design firm Zaha Hadid Architects. Named after Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, Jiangxi River Bridge also known as the Chengdu West First Bridge, marks the inaugural installment in a series of bridges on Chengdu's West Line Road.
Stretching 295 metres, the Chengdu West First Bridge gracefully extends over the Jiangxi River, which serves as a tributary to the Tuojiang River in the southwestern province of Sichuan. Crafted to accommodate vehicular traffic, cycling enthusiasts, and pedestrians alike, the bridge serves to reimagine the West Line Road as an integral component of the Airport New Town ring road and cycle path. This transformative urban development encircles the Chengdu Tianfu International Airport, expanding the connectivity and accessibility of the western region.
Zaha Hadid Architects, the eponymous firm of the late Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid and presently headed by London-based architect Patrik Schumacher, received a commission to construct the Chengdu West First Bridge. This bridge, also referred to as the Jiangxi River Bridge, was awarded to the practice after it emerged as the winner in an architecture competition conducted in 2019, which sought submissions for the bridge's conceptualisation.
The bridge design comprises two symmetrical steel arches ascending from either side of the roadway deck, ultimately converging at its apex. These arches ascend in harmony, gradually merging to fortify the structure's stability and shield it against the actions of the wind. The arches attain a height of 30 metres, maintaining a proportional relationship of approximately 1:6 ratio with an aim to strive for an ideal balance between the height and span of the bridge. Narrowing towards its centre, the dynamic curve of the bridge design assumes a tapered, intrinsic, and sculpted form that seemingly appears to be in a dialogue with the surrounding environment.
The arches are connected at the base through longitudinal box girders integrated along the road deck's perimeter. Box girders, commonly made from steel and concrete, find application in instances that require extensive spans, where the bridge's inherent weight must be minimised. This arrangement adeptly counteracts the horizontal pressure impacting the bridge. An intriguing aspect of the design lies in the absence of foundations within the river that the bridge crosses; instead, it rests upon piers situated on each opposite riverbank.
A substantial portion of the bridge's components are premanufactured, constituting elements such as the deck and girders. The deck was made from precast concrete panels, and the edge box girder sections housing cable anchorages, were prefabricated and subsequently joined through on-site welding.
These cable anchorages are large concrete structures placed far enough back from the water's edge to ensure against sliding. The girders were transported to the construction site and seamlessly linked to edge girders through bolted cover plate splices while mobile cranes lifted all the prefabricated steelwork and concrete parts. Conventional in-situ reinforced concrete techniques were employed for crafting the bridge's bored piles and abutments.
Zaha Hadid Architects states that they utilised an advanced structural analysis software to analyse the digital model for the bridge. An advanced 3D model of the bridge enabled the studio to assess various factors, including material density, static loads, dynamic traffic loads, wind forces, and temperature impacts on the structure. Hence, the design was meticulously formulated to exceed the requirements stipulated even for highly infrequent weather phenomena, such as events that transpire once in every 200 years, as mentioned in the press release by the firm.
The Jiangxi River Bridge is the latest addition to an extensive array of projects by Zaha Hadid Architects in China. These include the recent Daxia Tower gracing the Xi'an business district in Shaanxi Province, China; the expansion of the International Exhibition Centre in Beijing; a financial centre named Tower D in Shenzhen; and the Jinghe New City Culture & Art Centre in Xi’an that includes a performing arts theatre, exhibition space and galleries, multi-function halls, and studios. The British firm has previously realised the serpentine-looking Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi, which opened in 2010. Parallels can be drawn between the undulating structural outline of this bridge and the silhouette of the one mentioned above.
Name : Jiangxi River Bridge
Location: Chengdu, China
Client: Chengdu International Aerotropolis Group Construction and Development
Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects
ZHA Design: Patrik Schumacher
ZHA Project Directors: Charles Walker, Lei Zheng, Ed Gaskin
ZHA Project Architect: Han-Hsun Hsieh
ZHA Site Team: Lei Zheng, Han-Hsun Hsieh
ZHA Project Team: Jan Klaska, Lei Zheng, Marina Dimopoulou, Stratis Georgiou, Hung-Da Chien, Han-Hsun Hsieh, Martha Masli, Stella Dourtmes, Charles Walker, Ed Gaskin
Executive Architect: China Southwest Architectural Design & Research Institute
Local Architect: China Southwest Architectural Design & Research Institute
Structural Engineers: Buro Happold, China Southwest Architectural Design & Research Institute
Quantity Surveyor: China Southwest Architectural Design & Research Institute
General Contractor: Sinohydro Bureau 7 Co., Ltd, China Huaxi Engineering Design and Construction
Environmental Consultant: Shenzhen Pengdaxin Energy Environmental Protection Technology
M&E Engineering: China Southwest Architectural Design & Research Institute
MEP: China Southwest Architectural Design & Research Institute
Transport Consultant: China Southwest Architectural Design & Research Institute
Fire Engineer: China Southwest Architectural Design & Research Institute
Landscape Consultant: Zaha Hadid Architects
Lighting Design: Zaha Hadid Architects
Site Supervision: China Huaxi Engineering Design and Construction
Year of Completion: 2023
(Text by Irene Joseph, intern at STIR)