Israeli design for world’s biggest glass bridge
The video above shows Chaim Dotan’s amazing ‘disappearing’ glass bridge which opened in China last weekend
When Israeli architect Chaim Dotan was asked to design the world’s highest and longest glass-bottomed bridge which opened in China last weekend, he asked: “Why do you want a bridge? It’s too beautiful” he recalls telling developers.
Finally, Dotan conceded: “I told him he can build a bridge but under one condition: I want the bridge to disappear,” he explains.
RIGHT: Dotan’s disappearing bridge
Last weekend, the Israeli-designed-and-built bridge, the world’s highest and longest glass-bottomed bridge, opened in the spectacular park in the Zhangjiajie mountains in China’s central Hunan province.
The bridge is made of 99 panels of clear glass and can carry up to 800 people at the same time. It tapers towards the centre where it is six meters wide.
One of the summits in Zhangjiajie Park from which the bridge hangs, has a claim to movie stardom as well – it inspired the floating mountain which appeared in the blockbuster film Avatar after a Hollywood photographer holidayed in the area in 2008, took images that were later used for the film.
LEFT: Crowds swarmed over the bridge when it opened last weekend. In future use will be restricted to 8 000 people daily
Last year another, much smaller glass bridge at the Yuntai mountain in Henan province developed an alarming crack in some of its glass panels – so the authorities in Zhangjiajie were understandably eager to demonstrate the safety of the Israeli structure.
To this end, they organised a string of media events, including one where people were encouraged to try and smash the bridge’s glass panels with a sledgehammer, and another where they drove a car across it. It proved indestructible.
Israeli architect Chaim Dotan also made provision for the more adventurous in his design. He included a bungee jump and a ride on a zip line.
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A visitor at the opening with her family, Wang Min, told the Xinhua news agency that she had “wanted to feel awe-inspired by this bridge. But I’m not afraid – it seems safe!”
Because usage will be limited to 8 000 people a day bridge in the already-popular tourist area, those wanting to do the bridge crossing are advised to book in advance. The cost os US$28 (R380 at today’s exchange rates).
Cameras and selfie sticks are banned, and people wearing stilettos will not be allowed on the bridge. The camera ban was seemingly ignored at the opening. Visitors are also not allowed to wear stilettos.
Gymnasts supplied some of the festivities at the opening of the bridge
This aerial view shows the full expanse of the bridge
The world’s highest bungee jump and a great zip-slide were incorporated into Dotan’s design