Exploded View CLT bridge by Paul Cocksedge

Paul Cocksedge to install CLT bridge over Cape Town river

British designer Paul Cocksedge has unveiled plans to build a cross-laminated timber bridge across the Liesbeek River in Cape Town.

London-based Cocksedge plans to use eucalyptus, an invasive tree species in South Africa, to create the Exploded View bridge.

By transforming this wood into cross-laminated timber, or CLT, the material becomes much stronger, making it a viable and more sustainable alternative to steel or concrete.

Exploded View CLT bridge by Paul Cocksedge

Indigenous to Australia, eucalyptus trees such as forest red gum and karri were introduced to South Africa in the early 19th century, for plantation timber, but also for shade and shelter.

They have become a problem as they require more water than other species, particularly as South Africa recently suffered a severe water shortage.

"It is an invasive, alien species of tree in South Africa, which is causing a lot of environmental problems," Cocksedge told Dezeen.

Exploded View CLT bridge by Paul Cocksedge

To transform eucalyptus into CLT, layers of the wood are layered up in alternating longitudinal and transverse layers, and glued together. This layering is what gives the material its strength.

Cocksedge hopes the project will inspire more local architects and designers to explore the potential of timber construction.

"It will be the first 100 per cent CLT structure built in the area," he said. "It has a strong sustainable story and offers the local community a place to cross, sit and enjoy nature."

Exploded View CLT bridge by Paul Cocksedge

Cocksedge unveiled the project live on stage during the Design Indaba 2020 conference in Cape Town. Initiated by Design Indaba founder Ravi Naidoo, the project will be realised with support from consultancy WSP and building company XLAM.

Planned within the Upper Liesbeek River Garden, Exploded View will create a permanent river crossing, but also offer new seating areas. Lengths of CLT will be staggered to create various different types of ledges and seats.

Exploded View CLT bridge by Paul Cocksedge

The project forms a continuation of the ideas explored by Cocksedge in Please Be Seated, an installation at London Design Festival made up of three undulating loops of wood. But this will be his first time working with CLT.

"This bridge is a relatively simple visual gesture, but it addresses important issues around our environment, and how we can innovate with CLT to create new structures," added Cocksedge.

Exploded View CLT bridge by Paul Cocksedge

Design Indaba 2020 took place from 26 to 28 February at the Artscape Theatre in Cape Town.