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Self-supporting bridge made from panels of plywood

A marvel of modern fabrication

Man standing on curving wood bridge Photo by Héctor Pineda

Most bridges are defined by support structures like columns, cables, and beams, but this pedestrian bridge defies all technical expectations. The curving arch of the 39-foot “Bending Bridges” project takes care of both the architectural and structural needs of the bridge thanks to some truly clever engineering.

Researchers and students at Centro de Estudios Superiores de Diseño de Monterrey created a self-supporting bridge made of plywood whose double curvature design allows the bridge to carry the weight of up to five pedestrians.

Woman laying on curved wooden bridge Photo by Héctor Pineda

According to Designboom, the technical marvel took a year to conceptualize and plan but only four weeks to construct.

The researchers explain that they used software to determine the geometry of the bridge, which is constructed from thin layers of flexible plywood that are bent into shape toward the center of the bridge. The result is a spine-like design whose internal stress and stiffness allows the bridge to distribute the load to the foundation—no extra support structures necessary.

Close up of plywood panels Photo by Héctor Pineda