Thrill seekers and visitors to China’s Zhangjiajie in Hunan province will soon have yet another jawdropping bridge to look forward to in the region’s ‘Avatar’-like mountains. Martin Duplantier Architectes (MDA) and Daqian Landscape Architects won a design competition to build a reflective footbridge suspended high above the craggy landscape. Designed in the shape of an elliptical disk, the bridge would be made from reflective stainless steel and water-covered black stone to make the structure mirror the environment and appear to disappear in thin air.
Already home to the world’s longest and tallest glass-bottomed bridge, Zhangjiajie is a major tourist destination for nature lovers and adrenaline junkies. To appeal to both kinds of tourists, MDA designed a footbridge that would sit delicately on the site and is reflective to create a kind of optical illusion with minimal visual interference. In contrast to the jagged mountains, the bridge takes on a simple elliptical disk shape with an off-centered hole that allows breathtaking views into the gap between the rock faces.
The footbridge is made up of two levels: the upper one connects the two rock faces, while the lower one offers a hair-raising experience with its transparent bottom. Though the upper level doesn’t have a transparent bottom, it disappears in the landscape due to a “water mirror” made from two centimeters of water continuously pumped on top a black stone surface. A winding black stone path leads visitors from one rock face to the other. Every seven minutes, the water is drained and fed through spray nozzles to create clouds of fine mist. The bridge will be complemented by three stacked pavilions, set within the park, that offer panoramic views, a cafe, and a VIP suite.