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The World’s Largest Ice Bridge

Leonardo da Vinci’s design, Eindhoven University’s project.

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Engineering students at Eindhoven University of Technology in Juuka, Finland, have set upon a new project—or rather, a very old one. They are building a bridge based on an obscure model designed by Leonardo da Vinci in 1501; a project the Renaissance man intended to span 240-metres over the Golden Horn, an offshoot of the Bosphorus River. A single-span structure of that length was thought to be impossible with the limited construction methods of da Vinci’s time, so Eindhoven’s students opted to add a caveat to make their modern attempt extra-challenging, too—they will build a 65-metre version of the bridge out of ice.

The bridge will be constructed from ice reinforced with two per cent paper fibre, making it strong enough to bear the weight of a car. The water will be sprayed onto a balloon mould in thin layers, after which the balloon will be removed, leaving only the sluice of ice. This is not the first time Eindhoven’s students have capitalized on Finland’s deep-freeze climate; they previously built an all-ice version of Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, which also happened to double as the world’s largest ice dome. Volunteers are welcome to lend a hand with the project, which is expected to reach completion mid-February; if the cold is prohibitive, you may follow the project’s time-lapse video.

Photos by Thomas Meijerman.


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January 20, 2016