Gorgeous Timber-Covered Bridge Built at Chinese Eco-Cultural Resort

LUO Studio combines traditional concepts with modern wood technology.

Covered bridge from downstream

Jin Weiqi

Gulou in China's Jiangmen City was built on tidal flats where farmers and fishermen pushed the dirt around to form mounds and ponds. In this area, land parts were often connected by wooden bridges. Now, it is being turned into an eco-cultural tourism resort by LUO Studio. The press release states that it "maintains the form of the basic local water system, while organically integrating nature education, parent-child recreation, and fishing & husbandry activities."

Bridge at night

Jin Weiqi

"During the fishing civilization period, roads were poorly developed, so water systems became key routes of transportation and logistics," states LUO Studio. "Bridges needed to be walkable, while also ensuring more space for boats to pass through underneath, so traditional bridge construction techniques in China adopted 'arches' to create space." 

Arch bridge in Chenzhou, China
The arch bridge in Chenzhou, China.

Lloyd Alter

Arched bridges, sometimes called moon bridges, were high enough in the middle for barges to get under. But these bridges often had steep stairs up each side to not extend very far into the surrounding fields.

walking inside the bridge

Jin Weiqi

LUO Studio has designed this covered arch bridge out of wood, which was evidently common in the area. It explains:

"Constructing a covered corridor on bridges is an old tradition dating 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. 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."
arches with rower underneath

Jin Weiqi

The arches are each made of three large curved beams set about 10 feet apart, each delivered in three pieces and "connected and assembled by steel-strengthened bolts on the site, to form the complete wooden beam."

walking in bridge

Jin Weiqi

The actual covering of the bridge is made of overlapping metal plates set eight inches apart to allow light and ventilation and, at certain levels, a view.

side of bridge at stairs

Jin Weiqi

"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. As they continue to climb the bridge, the bright light refracted by the upper and lower metal plates attracts them to look out through the side gaps," states the studio. "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 a sense of calmness and openness in the mind. Such design forms a continuous spatial rhythm that gradually reaches the climax."

looking up at arches

Jin Weiqi

The three big beams were the only components that needed big machines to set:

"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."
Stairs going up into bridge

Jin Weiqi

One of the problems with arch or moon bridges is they have a lot of stairs and are not universally accessible. While these don't seem very steep compared to some of the ancient bridges, it still is surprising that this was permitted, given that for a decade "all urban, newly-constructed, altered, and extended roads, public buildings, public transportation facilities, residential buildings, and residential communities to meet the barrier-free standards of construction work." But then we have asked this question about pedestrian bridges in China before.

View Article Sources
  1. LUO Studio, "Timber Bridge in Gulou Waterfront." v2com newswire, 20 Apr. 2022.

  2. "China: New Accessibility Regulations Passed." Library of Congress, 3 Oct. 2012.