Next Monday the first batch of around 150 students will leave for Finland to build the world’s longest bridge made of ice. The 65-meter-long paper fiber-reinforced bridge, inspired by a Leonardo da Vinci design, is expected to be completed by mid February. It will become part of a site in the Finnish town of Juuka, where a team from Eindhoven built the world’s largest ice dome in 2014.
An international team, led by the staff of the Built Environment department of Eindhoven University of Technology, will build the bridge using around 900 tons of ice over the course of approximately six weeks. The structure will be made with water. Two percent of the mixture will be comprised of paper fiber, which will make the frozen water three times stronger than normal ice and 10 times as tough.
The water is first sprayed in thin layers onto an inflated balloon that serves as a mould and freezes the material almost instantly. Once the water has hardened, the balloon is removed from under it. This technique is inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s design for an unbuilt bridge over the Bosphorus. The new bridge in Finland uses the same construction principles with compression being the only load on the entire structure. The reinforcing paper will be used as compost in the spring, when the structure has melted.
In order to demonstrate the strength of the bridge, meant to be used exclusively by pedestrians, the team will conduct a test by having a car cross it at the opening ceremony. The bridge will be the main attraction of an ice festival taking place in Juuka.