Inside China: The bridge of love

Across China: A bridge of love

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ZHANGJIAJIE, Jan. 27, 2016 (Xinhua) -- Photo taken on Jan. 27, 2016 shows the glass bridge across the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon under construction in Zhangjiajie, central China's Hunan Province. The bridge is 430 meters long, six meters wide and 300 meters above the valley. It is capable of holding 800 people at once and is expected to be opened to tourists in the first half of this year. (Xinhua/Long Hongtao)
ZHANGJIAJIE, Jan. 27, 2016 (Xinhua) -- Photo taken on Jan. 27, 2016 shows the glass bridge across the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon under construction in Zhangjiajie, central China's Hunan Province. The bridge is 430 meters long, six meters wide and 300 meters above the valley. It is capable of holding 800 people at once and is expected to be opened to tourists in the first half of this year. (Xinhua/Long Hongtao)

In central China’s Hunan Province there stands a glass bridge. Its Israeli designer Haim Dotan believes that this bridge symbolizes love and nature.

ZHANGJIAJIE, Jan. 27, 2016 (Xinhua) -- Photo taken on Jan. 27, 2016 shows the glass bridge across the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon under construction in Zhangjiajie, central China's Hunan Province. The bridge is 430 meters long, six meters wide and 300 meters above the valley. It is capable of holding 800 people at once and is expected to be opened to tourists in the first half of this year. (Xinhua/Long Hongtao)
ZHANGJIAJIE, Jan. 27, 2016 (Xinhua) — Photo taken on Jan. 27, 2016 shows the glass bridge across the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon under construction in Zhangjiajie, central China’s Hunan Province. The bridge is 430 meters long, six meters wide and 300 meters above the valley. It is capable of holding 800 people at once and is expected to be opened to tourists in the first half of this year. (Xinhua/Long Hongtao)
“It will be a new icon in China,” he told Xinhua during an interview on Sunday, a week after the bridge opened to the public for trial operation.

Born in Jerusalem, Dotan has a historical connection with China that is central to who he is. His grandparents came to China in the 1910s, and in 1919 his mother was born in Shanghai.

“The Chinese saved the lives of my grandparents and gave life to my mother. I am alive because of China,” Dotan said.

He first came to China 30 years ago and for Dotan it felt like he was returning home.

In 2010, he designed the Israeli Pavillion at the World Expo in Shanghai, where he met a client who asked if he could design a bridge in Zhangjiajie, an area famous for its scenery, particularly its otherworldly mountains, which appeared in the Hollywood blockbuster “Avatar.”

“Nature is beautiful,” Dotan said. “But how can I design a bridge that is invisible and can disappear?”

Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu was an inspiration for Dotan. “He once wrote that ‘great music is unheard and good form is invisible,'” Dotan said.

He decided to use glass and build the bridge in the shape of a butterfly, so that visitors feel like they are standing on the air. He used the color white for the handrails — the colour of clouds.

The bridge is 430 meters long, six meters wide, with a glass-bottomed walkway that lays 300 meters above the canyon.

Comprising of 99 panes of three-layer transparent glass, the bridge set 10 world records for design and construction and went through many experiments to ensure safety.

“Mental safety” is another issue.

“People feel afraid walking on the bridge if everything is transparent,” Dotan said.

“We decided to have 60 percent of the bridge solid glass. People who are afraid can walk on the side and hold the handrail. People who are not so afraid can walk in the middle.”

A maximum of 8,000 visitors are allowed to cross the bridge each day, and a reservation must be made one day prior to visiting.

But the designer wants it to be more than a bridge.

“It could function as a stage for people to have concerts, dancing, fashion shows and even sports like bungee jumping,” he said.

Above all, he would like to see it become “a bridge of love.”

“Lovers can walk on the bridge, and say ‘I love you’. Their voice will then echo through the canyon,” Dotan said.

During construction, he once walked across the bridge with his wife. This experience now forms part of the bridge’s story.

He points at people moving across the bridge: “Look at those people. Some are standing, some are sitting, some are jumping. Some came under the stars, some came to see the sunrise. Everyone has a story. It is a bridge of stories.” Enditem

Source: Xinhua/News Ghana

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