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Penda designs Olympic bridge made up of intersecting rings

Architecture studio Penda has teamed up with engineering firm Arup to design a bridge made up of overlapping rings for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

San Shan bridge in Beijing, China by Penda

Designed to span the Gui River, the bridge will create a new direct route between central Beijing and Zhangjiakou, a district to the northwest of the city where many outdoor competitions will take place during the games.

San Shan bridge in Beijing, China by Penda

Its unusual structure, made up of six overlapping rings, is intended to reference the five rings that make up the Olympic logo.

But viewed side on, it is meant to look like a trio of mountains. This led to the name San Shan Bridge, which translates as Three Mountains Bridge.

San Shan bridge in Beijing, China by Penda

"The formal inspiration for the San Shan Bridge is a conjunction of its undulating surrounding and the meaning of the Olympic symbol," explained Penda, which is led by architects Chris Precht and Dayong Sun.

San Shan bridge in Beijing, China by Penda

"The bridge forms an inviting sculpture to a more mountainous scenery on the way to Zhangjiakou," added the studio.

"Entering the rings on the way to the Olympic competitions should be seen as an contextual icon for the games."

San Shan bridge in Beijing, China by Penda

Penda and Arup worked together to design a double-helix framework to support the structure's 452-metre-long deck.

The three double-arched steel structures will be made from tubular stainless-steel struts, while the deck will be suspended from steel wire cables. According to the team, the bridge will use five times less steel than a conventional box-girder frame.

San Shan bridge in Beijing, China by Penda

"The helix is designed and engineered to be as slender as possible, and positioned to offer the best structural performance," said Penda, adding that the design is "similar to the structure of a rollercoaster".

San Shan bridge in Beijing, China by Penda

Hedges and tree will divide the deck into different sections, keeping pedestrians and bicycles separate from cars and larger vehicles.

San Shan bridge in Beijing, China by Penda

If approved, the project will form part of a wider infrastructure upgrade ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, taking place just 14 years after the Chinese capital hosted the summer games.

It will also serve visitors to the Beijing Horticultural Expo 2019, which is taking place near the proposed site for the bridge.

San Shan bridge in Beijing, China by Penda

Penda has offices in both Beijing and Vienna, and is best known for its pioneering projects using bamboo. Past works include a prototype for a modular housing system and a copper box for storing, exhibiting and selling paintings.

San Shan bridge in Beijing, China by Penda
Site plan – click for larger image
San Shan bridge in Beijing, China by Penda
Long section – click for larger image
San Shan bridge in Beijing, China by Penda
Cross section – click for larger image
San Shan bridge in Beijing, China by Penda
Structural concept diagram – click for larger image
San Shan bridge in Beijing, China by Penda
Formal concept diagram – click for larger image