Arup x WZQ Bridge, China

Designed by Arup and built by a team of Arup volunteers, university students and Wu Zhi Qiao Charitable Foundation (WZQ) members, Arup x WZQ Bridge is a vivid illustration of social usefulness of engineers by creating a safe lifeline to education and agriculture for over 3,000 villagers in rural China.

Located in Mixia Village, Yunnan Province near the Chinese-Vietnamese border, this bridge has a span of 20m with a vertical clearance of 6m to avoid the floods that used to destroy the makeshift bamboo bridge. Due to durability and longevity, the bridge is constructed out of galvanised steel with rocks and stones from around the site used as counterweights.

A bridge of special significance

Due to the remote location of the bridge, there was no electricity or heavy machinery on site. All materials were lifted into place by pulley and levy systems run by the team’s brute strength, and connections were joined by nuts and bolts. Taking this into consideration, the structural design members are all of a manageable weight.

"I’m proud that our young colleagues have built a bridge that no less significant than those urban landmarks. The remote location, poor accessibility, complex geographic and terrain conditions, lack of modern construction machinery and amenities, the very different culture…seriously tested the team’s technical skill, their will power, as well as their physical strength."

— Andrew Chan, Group Deputy Chairman and Project Advisor

A long journey

From design to competition, it took two years to complete the bridge. A global design competition, vigilant planning and multiple site visits were crucial to delivering this safe, culturally sensitive and highly sustainable bridge.

Investigation

December 2009 - May 2010
Preliminary site reconnaissance and surveying were conducted by a team comprising Arup staff and students from The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and Kunming University of Science and Technology (KUST).

Preliminary design

June 2010 - September 2010
A design competition was launched across Arup's global offices. The winning design, selected from 44 submissions by a panel formed by Arup WZQ members, served as the basis for the detailed design.

Detailed design

October 2010 – September 2011
The detailed design was developed by Arup engineers from Hong Kong and mainland China offices with assistance from Xi’an University students. The team took into account the robustness of the bridge, and sustainability and constructability in this remote location, as well as consideration of the raw local materials as far as possible.

Full-scale mock-up

September 2011 – December 2011
The team conducted a full-scale mock-up of the bridge assembly process at the steel fabrication and assembly sponsor S-Couvrot's factory in Shanghai. Site formation and site inspections were also carried out to make final preparations for the on-site construction.

Construction

22 December 2011 – 4 January 2012
A team of Arup engineers travelled to Mixia Village to build this bridge with student volunteers from the KUST, CUHK, and The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The bridge opened on 4 January.

Bridging hearts and minds

The volunteers also helped beyond the bridge programme. They brought clothes and stationary donated by Arup staff, and organised activities and projects to have fun with students and rejuvenate the village school building.

Beyond the tangible benefits brought about by a sturdy new bridge, this project has also formed connectivity of our minds and our hearts – be it volunteer or villager. This type of bond was forged on site where volunteers and villagers worked side by side, and ate side by side; and this bond was nourished by a collective pledge for both volunteers and villagers to learn about each other’s culture and backgrounds in times of rest.

"Finally, we made it and a strong connection has been established, linking up the villagers and the external communities, as well as all the people involved in the project!"

— Freda Chu, Arup x WZQ Project Manager

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  • Arup X Wu Zhi Qiao Original bridge

    A primitive bamboo bridge used to be the only link between the 3,000 villagers to the external communities.

  • Site Visit for Arup WZQ

    Site Visit

  • website showing Arup x WZQ design won

    A design competition was held to solicit the best design across the Arup global network.

  • Arup x WZQ mock up test

    A full-scale mock-up test was carried out.

  • Arup x WZQ during construction

    Watch the video to see how we built the bridge by hand within 12 days.

  • Arup x WZQ more than a physical connection

    The bridge has also formed connectivity of our hearts and minds. Watch the video to have a look at those unforgettable moments.

  • Click here to view our gallery which captures the days and nights of working and living in MixiaOpen gallery

    A gallery captures the days and nights of working and living in Mixia.