Incredible as it may sound, this Dragonfly pedestrian bridge (so called because of its resemblance to the six-legged winged dragon) is actually a real-life robot transformer not unlike the TV hit series of the 80s featuring morphing giant robots called Transformers.
The future, it seems, is already here.
Conceptualised by London-based architect Margot Krasojevic who is well-known for her experimental if not radical designs, this bridge ─ like the dragonfly it is named after ─ is flexible and mobile. It folds, stacks, expands its three walkways for mooring on quaysides, then contracts after its job is done to sail away like a yatch on lightweight aluminium sails to different locations, all the while generating its own electricity to power its motors through its own solar panels to do what it is built to do.
About the only thing this Dragonfly Transformer Bridge cannot do, is perhaps fly.
But let’s not discount that too quickly. Engineering technology is evolving at such speeds, you don’t know what may be possible tomorrow.
As a case in point ─ pardon the digression ─ already, there are now flying taxis or pilotless drones that carry passengers. Barely two months ago (in September 2017), Dubai test-flew what might soon be the world’s first-ever revolutionary drone taxis! The news was all over the BBC and CNN. The flying taxi was developed by German drone company Volocopter and the test flight had Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed taking the maiden cab ride on air, according to NYPost.
Back to the Dragonfly Transformer BridgeThe bridge’s real name is Revolving Solar Sail Bridge.
The Ordos City government of Inner Mongolia was looking for a new crossing for the Wulan Mulun River, located in Ordos City in the Kangbashi district of Mongolia. They commissioned Krasojevic to design a pedestrian bridge.
And so she did.
It Moves!Krasojevic’s design turns out to be a revolving sail bridge that would define a new typology for bridges.
The bridge consists of a main floating section which gives buoyant support to three expanding walkways, and a carbon fibre triple sail which is raised and lowered by the buoyancy rotator. The bridge is flexible in that it can relocate by sailing up and down the river to adapt to its new position. To mobilise itself, it folds into multiple sections that stack into each other.
The bridge’s mobility is demonstrated by its ability to sail, or be towed or motored to its new location.
The bridge’s pedestrian walkway is supported by a hydraulic telescopic secondary structure which expands and contracts into the main body of the primary structure.
The bridge’s flexibility can also be seen by its ability to be moored along the quayside of any location. Or it can be permanently positioned on Caisson foundations which are floated and sunk into position to stabilise the bridge. Nine ton anchors further prevent the bridge from floating away.
Another of the bridge’s flexibility is its walkways’ adaptability to different quays and spans across the river, expanding and folding accordingly. The hydraulic walkway is supported by the river bank’s landing docks while the main body of the bridge is kept afloat by the sail and its rotator.
The sails are made of lightweight aluminum frame, clad in a carbon fibre reinforced polymer. They are suspended from a rotating Mobius ballast chamber which is hydraulically operated by a thruster to rotate and fill with water in order to revolve the sail and relocate the bridge.
Multi-Purpose in More Ways than OneWhen the bridge is in use, the sail is lowered and acts as a canopy over a seated area for people to enjoy the views and the platform gardens.
Therefore the Dragonfly Bridge serves not just a utilitarian purpose, it has aesthetic objectives too.
“Why can’t it have another use when it is not a bridge?,” rhetorically questioned Krasojevic in an interview with MailOnline.
“A pop-up restaurant, quayside coffee shop, even a cinema. Cities demand adaptable design rather than a static and debilitating architectural presence,” she was reported to have said.