Students Build a Bridge Based on a Leonardo da Vinci Sketch Using Nothing But Ice
Da Vinci designed the bridge in 1502, but it was never built.
Leonardo da Vinci is commonly known for painting the most famous portrait in the world, the Mona Lisa. But, a true Renaissance man, he also made great contributions in the fields of mathematics, science, anatomy, and engineering.
In fact, one of his greatest engineering feats was an ambitious bridge designed to span the Bosphorus, the 32 kilometer-long strait that separates the continents of Europe and Asia in what is now Istanbul. Da Vinci sketched the design of the stone bridge in 1502, but the 240 meter long structure was never built.
Until now, that is. A group of students and volunteers is currently building a bridge based on Da Vinci’s sketch in Juuka, Finland. Led by the Eindhoven University of Technology, the contemporary reinterpretation of the Italian polymath’s work has a surprising twist: instead of using typical construction materials, the environmentally-friendly project titled Bridge in Ice is created, as the name suggests, with frozen water.
Measuring 35 meters in length, the construction of the ice bridge began on December 28, 2015, and will be finished on February 13, 2016. Although the bridge will only be used by pedestrians, a car will be driven across it to test its strength, according to the Daily Mail.
The structure is being built using huge inflatable molds, where a composite of water with added cellulose fibers—a material called pykrete—is pumped into. It will be, according to the project’s website, the longest ice bridge in the world (apparently, there have been previous, more modest attempts to construct Da Vinci’s bridge design using ice).
The ice bridge is erected as part of an open-air installation along the Snow Track in Juuka, where other experimental ice projects are located, including a series of sculptures by artist Rinus Roelofs, a self-confessed Da Vinci fan.
The area also plays host to additional pieces by the students responsible for the bridge, such as the largest-ever ice dome, and a scaled ice-model of Antoni Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia,.
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