Sunday, June 1, 2008

Bamboo Bridge Flys Away

The first flying bamboo bridge makes its appearance at the F.A.U. campus yesterday. In 2006 Simon Velez and Marcelo Villegas were the Guests of Florida Atlantic University at the suggestion of Hitesh Mehta, who just completed an eco Hotel in China with Simon Velez. The project which was completed by the Students a very modern bamboo bridge using Marcelo Villegas' washer system and supplied the bamboo poles and the American Bamboo Society made a generous contribution to the course. The students and staff were eclipsed by the pace at which Simon and Marcelo worked. After the course the bridge was structurally complete but was not considered safe by the administration, and was headed for demolition . Enter Daniel Cheyne our partner and C.E.O. of Guadua Tech S.A. who had proposed several bridge designs for Tropical Bamboo, made the leap that if the school wanted to dismantle the bridge why not just pick it up and move it to Tropical Bamboo. This concept didn't really seem feasible to most, pick up a 30 ft bamboo bridge estimated weight at several tons as most of the nodal connections were filled with mortar as per the masters in bamboo construction plans, and place it on a truck and take it to its new home. This raised several concerns for the school, Safety permits, would it hold I mean after all its Bamboo. We all know the importance of Guadua Angustifolia and its strength and Marcelos system has been proven, but this structure was built by students over 2 years ago and the bamboo poles have been exposed to the sun. Well after some slight negotiations we solved the problem by just doing it, Daniel Cheyne was in awe that we didn't close the road no police no permits, "very Colombian" . Robert Sapporito ( Tropical bamboo) hired a crane and flat bed truck the structure was strapped cut away from the footers and lifted into the air. The bridge was weighed at 6500 lbs much less than anticipated by Aron Temkin the current dean of the school of architecture and Luke a professor at the school of design. This could have been a bad scene but the structure flew with out any sag or motion a tribute to the design, the material the students and faculty. To quote my Colombian architect friend "Unbelievable"

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