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Designer explains his glass 'bridge of love'

China Daily | Updated: 2016-08-31 08:15

Designer explains his glass 'bridge of love'

Visitors walk on the glass-bottomed bridge in Zhangjiajie,Hunan province, on Aug 20,its opening day. Zhou Guoqiang / For China Daily

In Zhangjiajie in Central China's Hunan province, there stands a glass bridge. Its Israeli designer, Haim Dotan, said it symbolizes love and nature.

"It will be a new icon in China," Dotan said in an interview on Sunday, a week after the bridge opened to the public for trial operation.

Born in Jerusalem, Dotan has a connection with China that is central to who he is. His grandparents came to China in the 1910s, and in 1919 his mother was born in Shanghai.

"The Chinese saved the lives of my grandparents and gave life to my mother. I am alive because of China," Dotan said.

He first came to China 30 years ago, and for Dotan it felt like he was returning home.

In 2010, he designed the Israeli Pavillion at the World Expo in Shanghai, where he met a client who asked if he could design a bridge in Zhangjiajie, an area famous for its scenery, particularly its otherworldly mountains that appeared in the Hollywood blockbuster Avatar.

"Nature is beautiful," Dotan said. "But how can I design a bridge that is invisible and can disappear?"

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu was an inspiration for Dotan.

"He once wrote that 'great music is unheard and good form is invisible'," Dotan said.

He decided to use glass and build the bridge in the shape of a butterfly, so that visitors feel like they are standing on air. He used white for the handrails - the color of clouds.

The bridge is 430 meters long and 6 meters wide, with a glass-bottom walkway suspended 300 meters above the canyon.

Comprising 99 panes of three-layer transparent glass, the bridge set 10 world records for design and construction, and went through many experiments to ensure safety.

A maximum of 8,000 visitors are allowed to cross the bridge each day. A reservation must be made one day ahead. Above all, he would like to see it become "a bridge of love".

"Lovers can walk on the bridge and say, 'I love you'. Their voice will then echo through the canyon," Dotan said.



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