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LUO studio：Due to the unique tidal flat landform, Gulou in Jiangmen City established the tradition of making use of the water system to dig ponds and form mounds for fishing and farming. As the water system and fish ponds occupy a large area and form a fragmented spatial pattern in local villages, many bridges have been built to connect the areas segmented by water. With rapid urbanization in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, many local villagers have abandoned the traditional fishing lifestyle in favor of living a more urban life. For this reason, water villages in which people make a living by fishing have been gradually disappearing.
▽有游船的全貌 Overall view of bridge and fishing boat
▽有渔船驶入 Boat sailing towards the bridge
围墩振兴 Background: rural revitalization
Gulou Waterfront is an eco-cultural tourism resort developed by OCT in the context of rural revitalization, aiming to combine rural development with the cultural background of local villages on the premise of preserving the unique spatial fabrics featuring mounds and ponds. The resort maintains the form of the basic local water system while organically integrating nature education, parent-child recreation, and fishing & husbandry activities.
▽木桥与周围大区域 Timber bridge and its surroundings
▽西北侧望向桥体 View of the bridge from the northwest side
▽东侧的夜景 Night view of the bridge from the east side
▽西北侧俯瞰 Top view from the northwest side
Those operations in the resort require several bridges in certain areas, to facilitate the movement of people and fishing boats.
▽有渔夫航行 Rowing fisherman
▽渔船划行经过 Sailing fishing boat
全木拱桥 Arched wooden bridge
During the fishing civilization period, roads were poorly developed, so water systems became the key route for transportation and logistics. Since bridges need to be walkable while also ensuring more space for boats underneath to pass through, traditional bridge construction techniques in China adopted “arches” to create space for the passage of boats under bridges, and enhance the effectiveness of the structure. Due to the abundance of woods, Southern China has the tradition of applying timber to build bridges.
▽全貌 Overall view of the bridge
▽有船经过桥中央 Boat passing under the bridge
▽渔船远去 Boat sailing away from the bridge
This project is a timber bridge, which is one of the many in Gulou Waterfront Resort. To differentiate it from urban constructions and revitalize traditional rural culture, LUO studio adopted natural wooden materials to construct an arched bridge. The resort provides access for small fishing vessels, as well as large tour ships. To enable boats of various sizes to pass under the bridge smoothly, the load-bearing platform at the bottom of the arch which is 1.35m higher than the normal water level, combined with the 2.8m arched structure, forms a space more than 4m higher than the normal water level. This meets the clearance requirements for large tour boats to pass through. Based on geological surveys, the span of the bridge is set at 25.2m. Through structural calculation and construction analysis, LUO studio utilized 3 large curved beams as main structural components, which are arranged in a parallel manner with a 2.8 spacing between each other. With full consideration of manufacturing and transportation costs, each main beam was divided into three sections at appropriate positions, connected and assembled by steel-strengthened bolts on the site, to form the complete wooden beam.
▽廊侧围护体构造分析 Corridor enclosure structures diagram
▽仰望桥身 Upward view of the bridge
▽背光中的桥体 Bridge against light
桥上设廊 Set covered corridor on the bridge
The ridge is located in the joint area between a dense traditional commercial street area and a children’s recreation area. LUO studio created a relatively “closed” corridor space on the timber bridge, which is different from other open landscape bridges in the resort. The aims were to accentuate the transition from the “practical” commercial street area to the relatively “dreamy” children’s recreation area, allowing visitors to feel a sense of ceremony in the moving process.
▽两端入口立面 Entrance diagram
▽西侧正入口 Entrance on the west side
Constructing a covered corridor on bridges has been an old tradition that dates back to the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period. The initial intention was to strengthen the bridge structure, resist rain and moisture, keep the wood dry and prevent it from corrosion.
▽西南侧看桥身 View of the bridge from the southwest side
▽侧面看桥身 Side view of the bridge
This project also inherits the construction wisdom of ancient covered bridges. The covered corridor enhances the overall structural stability and protects the arched wooden structure beneath from exposure to sun and rain.
▽在划船的渔夫 Rowing fisherman
The west area of the Pearl River Delta where the timber bridge is located has abundant rainfall, so the corridor was constructed in a relatively closed form. The exterior of the corridor space is covered by layers of metal plates, which effectively protect it from rain and also create a sense of cohesion for the space.
▽桥下的渔船 Fishing boat under the bridge
“廊”的建造 Covered corridor construction
1. 小截面木料的次结构体系 Sub-structural system formed by wooden components with small sections
Apart from the three large wooden arched beams that bear the main load of the bridge body having a section size of 600mm*300mm, other wooden components adopt small sections. They are either 100mm*100mm or 100mm*50mm. Small wooden components are interlocked and anchored to the three main arched beams, functioning as sub-beams on upper and lower levels. In addition, the two ends of these sub-beams are combined with upward components to form a stable triangle of forces.
▽剖轴测 Axonometric drawing
▽桥下看水街 Viewing waterfront street under the bridge
The plane of the bridge’s roof is a complete rectangle. The top, left, right edges of the bridge’s side facades also consist of rectangular silhouettes, while only the lower edge is a natural curve. This generates height variations of the corridor space that is higher on the two sides and lower in the middle. To ensure the structural stability of the covered corridor space, the design team set horizontal connecting rods in the middle section and added two viewing platforms on either side, which also avoid the monotonous feeling when viewing the corridor space from the entrance and exit.
▽正入口的局部 Entrance details
▽桥廊上的人群 People on the corridor space
The small-section sub-structural system not only enhances the sense of structure in the corridor space but also reveals the elaborate craftsmanship and details to visitors on tour boats and offers them a unique visual experience.
▽木架变截面分析 Wooden frame sections
▽从中央望向东侧平台 View of the east platform from the middle area
2. 构造模数&材料规格 Construction modules & material specifications
The small-scale wooden components are arranged with small spacing in between. The spacing between neighboring substructures is set at 1,000mm equally. This perfectly matches the scales of the steps and metal exteriors. Between neighboring sub-beams, three steps are set at the steep sections of the arch, while two steps are set at the gentle sections. The length of each external metal plate is controlled at about 900mm, which is appropriate for manufacturing, transporting, and installation. The 900mm length of timber frames also provides a suitable space for a single person to stand, lean, and rest.
▽有人行走的桥廊空间 Pedestrian on the bridge corridor
▽有人行走的中部桥廊上 Pedestrian walking on the central area of the bridge corridor
3. 顶光&侧缝、底隙 Top light, side and bottom gaps
The neighboring upper and lower steps of the corridor have a clearance of 70mm. A gap of about 200mm is set in between layered metal plates on the exteriors of the corridor space. A 1,500mm-wide daylighting belt is set at the middle of the corridor roof. When walking slowly into the corridor space from the entrances at both ends, visitors can catch the sparkling water under the bridge through the narrow gaps between steps.
▽桥顶-侧-底构造分解图 Exploded diagram (roof- side parts- bottom)
▽入口的一侧通道 Passage on one side of the entrance
▽桥廊空间 Bridge corridor
As they continue to climb the bridge, the bright light refracted by the upper and lower metal plates attract them to look out through the side gaps. Such a special “collected” viewing experience distinguishes this timber bridge from other open bridges. While passing through the platforms from two ends to reach the center of the bridge corridor, visitors can fully experience the light and shadows from the top, feeling calmness and openness in the mind. Such design forms a continuous spatial rhythm that gradually reaches the climax.
▽通往东侧平台的阶梯空间 Steps leading to the east platform
▽桥廊上中部 Middle and upper area of the corridor space
工业&手作 Industrialization and handwork
The materials utilized were manufactured and processed by factories based on industrialization standards, and all the necessary timber and metal components were treated by modern industrial technology and methods. During the installation and construction, only the three main beams were hoisted by large machinery. All other follow-up construction steps were fully adaptable and transportable through the hands of the workers in response to the local context. The whole construction process not only effectively harmonized with the surrounding construction sites and took advantage of efficient industrialized methods, but also conveyed rural warmth as well as the “localization” of construction.
▽次结构件施工 Sub-structural components installation
▽次结构体系 Sub-structural system
▽廊骨架完成 Completed skeleton of the corridor space
▽台阶材料搬运 Moving step materials
▽明灯的傍晚 Illuminated night view
▽西入口的黄昏 West entrance at dusk
▽明灯的倒影 Reflection of the illuminated bridge
▽船工划船经过 Boat passing through
▽总平面图 Master plan
Project name: Timber Bridge in Gulou Waterfront
Client: Jiangmen OCT Co., Ltd.
Design studio: LUO studio (www.luostudio.cn)
Design / construction instruction: Luo Yujie, Lu Zhuojian, Wang Beilei
Structural consulting: LaLu Structural Consulting
Construction firm: Shenzhen Zhenhui Architectural Engineering Co., Ltd.
Wood material suppliers: SHENGTEHAOSEN, KINGSPINE-HOUSE
Lighting fixture supplier: Meteor Shower
Location: Gulou Waterfront, Jiangmen, Guangdong, China
Photography: Jin Weiqi
Video production: Jin Weiqi, Xiao Shiming
Total spatial area: 166 square meters
Wooden bridge body size: 25.2m*7.3m*8.6m
Main materials: pine wood, concrete, aluminum plate, glass
Start time: March 2021
Completion time: January 2022
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