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Printing bridges

Construction company BAM Infra and The Eindhoven University of Technology have opened what they claim is the ‘world’s first 3D printed, reinforced, pre-stressed concrete bridge’ according to Dezeen Magazine.

It is reported that it took robots three months to print 800 layers of pre-stressed and reinforced concrete in the university’s laboratory, using less concrete than a traditional poured concrete bridge making it a more sustainable construction process. The bridge forms part of a new ring road being built around Gemert in the Dutch province of Brabant.

Future Cities Forum featured 3-D printed technology through Architecture 00 at our launch event held at RIBA in June 2016 and through Laing O’Rourke and Igloo Regeneration at our smart cities event at the IET, London last March. We will be looking at this again at our Housing and Construction Forum at City Hall, London in May 2018.

Bridges have symbolic meanings for communities as well as practical benefits so we thought we would bring you an excerpt from a thought-leadership blog by the Headmaster of Lord Wandsworth College, Adam Williams:

‘……bridges are integral to life; they draw people and places closer together and help communities combine. They are a gateway to opportunity and a reassuring comfort about the fast-moving waters below. The iconic nature of Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, The Rialto Bridge, Ironbridge, the Firth of Forth Bridge (and no, it no longer needs painting constantly thanks to advancements in Dulux technology…) are etched into a place’s psyche and being. The likes of Monet, Canaletto, Rembrandt, Van Gogh all drew inspiration from their work with this form (“Waterloo Bridge, Sunlight in the Fog” is my personal favourite).

For those of you who enjoy the reassuring tones of the Shipping Forecast, ‘Tyne, Forth, Dogger’ takes you to a part of the North Sea that is arguably Britain’s most important bridge (a land bridge to be precise). Dogger Bank, which sits just below sea level some 100 km off the coast of Newcastle is not only a key UK fishing ground but is also awash with evidence of human settlements, ancient technologies and remains of civilisations, for this ridge sat above the waves as part of the land bridge to mainland Europe some 5000 years ago, before a catastrophic rising of sea levels inundated life here. Dogger Bank and Doggerland was the way in and out for woolly mammoths, sabre-tooth tigers and all other sub-arctic species. Humans naturally followed too before being cut off from their mainland cousins years later. It was the first Brexit… In fact, such land bridges allowed the spread of human population cross the planet before sea levels rose by over 100m worldwide’.

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