Bridges are some of the world's most magnificent marvels of engineering, connecting cities and even countries. But bridges have also featured some of the most innovative design. According to a Transportation Research Board Special Report on the Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation, many bridges are often designed to withstand storms that have a probability of occurring only once or twice every 100 years. And then there are some bridges—the ones that curl, tilt or even shoot water—that are simply cool.
1. Circular Laguna Garzon Bridge, Uruguay
Located on Uruguay's southern coast, the new ring-shaped bridge across Laguna Garzon was built to replace a raft crossing between the cities of Rocha and Maldonado. Designed by architect Rafael Viñoly, the curved design was chosen to force drivers to slow down, according to TechInsider. The bridge also features two pedestrian walkways to take in the view. While the raft crossing previously only allowed two cars to cross the lagoon, this new circular bridge allows 1,000 vehicles to pass at a time, reports Amusing Planet. Its construction is also expected to improve coastal development along the city Rocha.
2. Twin Sails Bridges, Dorset, England
Opened in April 2012, the Twin Sails Bridge is a double leaved bascule bridge spanning the Backwater Channel in Dorset, England. Designed by architect Wilkinson Eyre, the bridge features two 75-foot-tall triangular lifting leaves, both powered by hydraulic rams that can open the bridge up to 15 times a day to allow for the passage of boats through the channel. In its closed position, the bridge is completely flat, but when the two triangular spans are lifted, the leaves resemble the sails of yachts. According to Amusing Planet, it takes two minutes for the bridge to fully open.
3. Eshima Ohashi, Japan
Bridge or "roller coaster?" The Eshima Ohashi Bridge, a concrete road bridge, spans a mile across Lake Nakaumi in Japan, linking the cities of Matsue and Sakaiminato. But what gives it a thrill-ride factor is the fact that it rises so ships can pass underneath, according to the Daily Mail. It has a gradient of 6.1 per cent on the Shimane Prefecture side and 5.1 per cent on the Tottori Prefecture side. But looks can also be deceiving. When seen from a distance at its side, from start to finish, the bridge actually reveals a gradual incline, not the sharp 45-degree angle it appears on photos, according to the New York Daily News.
4. Dragon Bridge, Vietnam
Long a symbol of power and fortune in Asia, dragons are seen all over the continent — from dragon statues adorning temple structures to dragon ink paintings hanging in homes. But Vietnam takes the dragon motif to a whole new level when it unveiled its 2,185-foot-long Dragon Bridge, located in the city of Da Nang, in 2013. The steel, dragon-shaped bridge, which spans the River Han, literally breathes fire from its mouth. The fire-breathing show takes place every Saturday and Sunday at 9 p.m., according to CNN. The bridge is also illuminated by more than 2,500 LED lights which treat spectators to a dazzling light show.
5. Island in the Mur, Austria
Is it a bridge? An island? A floating platform? Many consider Murinsel (or Island in the Mur) in Graz, Austria to be all three. Designed by American architect Vito Acconci, the Murinsel is a steel-and-glass structure that links the two banks of the Mur river. But more than just a footbridge to get to the other side, the Murinsel also features an artificial island with curves and twisted shapes that form a half-opened seashell. The "shell" shelters a floating cafe, a children's playground and an amphitheater (complete with wave-like benches) that hosts events, according to the official Austrian tourism website.
6. Rolling Bridge, England
Every Friday at midday, pedestrians and tourists stand back to see a four-minute spectacle unfold across the Grand Union Canal in Paddington Basin in Central London. The award-winning Rolling Bridge curls up out of the way and into an octagon shape to allow boats to sail in and out.
Typically, opening bridges have a single rigid element that fractures and lifts out of the way. The Rolling Bridge, which was built in 2004, opens by slowly and smoothly curling until it transforms from a conventional, straight bridge, into a circular sculpture which sits on the bank of the canal, according to the website for Heatherwick Studio, which designed the structure. The bridge, which has a motion most would actually call "curling" rather than "rolling," consists of eight triangular sections hinged at the walkway level and is connected above by two part links that collapse towards the deck under the control of hydraulic pistons, says the Daily Mail. The bridge can be stopped at any point of its journey.
7. Lego Bridge, Germany
One glance at the bridge that crosses Schwesterstraße in the North Rhine-Westphalian city of Wuppertal, Germany and you would think you were transported to Legoland. The Lego Bridge (or Lego-Brücke) may look like it was made from the Lego bricks, but look again. The concrete beam bridge, which carries a railway line, was actually painted to just look like Lego bricks. In 2011, graffiti and street artist Martin Heuwold repainted the bridge in the style of Lego bricks after he was commissioned by the city of Wuppertal to transform the bridge into an "eye-catcher," according to a press release. Danish manufacturer Lego approved the use of the design.
8. Living Root Bridges, India
A form of tree shaping creates incredible natural, suspension bridges in Meghalaya, India, the rainiest place on Earth. The tree roots are trained by the local Khasi people to grow through betel tree trunks which are placed across the gap, until the figs' roots take root on the other side. This process can take well over a decade before the bridge is fully functional and then over time the bridge grows and strengthens, according to Inhabitat.
9. Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain, South Korea
The Banpo Bridge in Seoul, South Korea may be the most multifunctional bridge in the world. The span, which crosses over the Hangang River, is actually a two-tiered bridge. Banpo Bridge stands on top of the Jamsugyo (Submergence Bridge), which was designed to be submerged in water during the rainy season and accommodates two lanes for cars, a pedestrian walkway and a bicycle lane, according to Visit Korea, the official tourism website. In 2009, the Moonlight Rainbow Fountain was added to Banpo Bridge, making it the world's longest fountain bridge and the site of a spectacular water and light show, with 380 water jets, which shoot 190 tons of recycled river water per minute.
10. Slauerhoffbrug, Netherlands
Located in the city of Leeuwarden in the Netherlands, and spanning the Harlinger Vaart River, the fully automatic bascule bridge Slauerhoffburg looks like it's flipping pancakes. Completed in 2008, the movable bridge can be quickly raised to allow ships to pass, according to Popular Mechanics. It does this through the use of two arms — hydraulic cylinders — that swing an actual section of road in and out of place within the road itself. According to Popular Mechanics, the bridge is lifted and lowered 10 times a day, and the lift bearing lift bearing seamlessly disappears into the road when lowered.
11. Moses Bridge, Netherlands
In the 17th century, fortresses and moats protected the West Brabant Water Line region of the Netherlands against French and Spanish invaders. One of the forts, Fort de Roovere, has since fallen into disrepair but its restoration has given designers an opportunity to build an innovative bridge that can bring visitors across the moat. To preserve the "hidden" qualities of the fort, the designers built an "invisible" bridge across the moat, and constructed it so it can't be seen from a distance because the ground and the water come all the way up to its edge. The sunken bridge, called Moses Bridge, was named so because it invokes the biblical image of Moses parting the Red Sea, and gives the illusion of people crossing through the moat, according to the Daily Mail.
12. Henderson Waves Bridge, Singapore
The distinctive sculptural form of the Henderson Waves Bridge has made it an iconic fixture in Singapore's skyline. The bridge, Singapore's highest pedestrian bridge, links the city’s southern ridges, which are comprised of a nine-kilometer chain of green open spaces spanning the rolling hills of Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park and Kent Ridge Park before ending at West Coast Park, according to DesignBoom. The structure's artistic merit is also not lost on its admirers. The undulating curved "ribs" actually double as alcoves that provide shelter to the public, says Singapore's National Parks Board. And at night, the bridge takes on a different look. The "waves" are illuminated with LED lights from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily.
13. Gateshead Millennium Bridge, England
On June 28, 2001, 38,000 people in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, England, lined the banks of the River Tyne to see a new marvel of engineering tilt for the first time. The innovative titling pedestrian and cyclist bridge, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, has become a landmark for the northeast of England (it has even been featured in a postage stamp). The bridge is essentially two graceful curves, one forming the deck and the other supporting it, spanning between two islands running parallel to the quaysides, according to website of WilkinsonEyre Architects, the designers of the bridge. The curves then pivot around their common springing points to allow ships to pass beneath, using an innovative rotational movement similar to that of a slowly opening eyelid.
14. Øresund Bridge, Sweden and Denmark
The opening of the Øresund Bridge in 2000 not only made non-stop travel between mainland Europe and Sweden a reality, but it also created a link that makes for a unique journey. The crossing is actually made up of three sections — a bridge, an artificial island, and a tunnel. The tunnel had to be built since a bridge spanning the entire link between Malmö, Sweden and Copenhagen, Denmark would have interfered with obstacle-free zones around Kastrup Airport. A tunnel would also allow large ships to pass the Oresund without worrying about the height of the bridge. However, the artificial island, Peberholm, doesn't just connect the bridge and tunnel. Because flora and fauna have been allowed to develop freely on the island, it has become a haven for biologists, according to the official website for the Øresund Bridge. Peberholm is now abreeding ground for birds, provides habitat for the rare green toad, and is home to rare spiders and insects.
15. Python Bridge, Netherlands
One of the most unusual bridges in Amsterdam (and there are many!), the Python Bridge has a red snake-like shape, and spans the canal between Sporenburg and Borneo Island. It is also one of the city's newest, built in 2001 and winning the International Footbridge Award in 2002.
16. Falkirk Wheel, Scotland
The Falkirk Wheel is the world’s only rotating boatlift, which is used to connect the Forth & Clyde and Union canals in central Scotland. The wheel raises boats by 79 ft, but the Union Canal is still 36 ft higher than the aqueduct which meets the wheel, and boats must pass through a pair of locks to get between the top of the wheel and the Union Canal. The Falkirk Wheel is the only rotating boat lift of its kind in the world, and one of two boat lifts in the United Kingdom, the other being the Anderton boat lift. See the Falkirk Wheel in action in this video.
17. Octavio Frias de Oliveira Bridge, Brazil
The Octavio Frias de Oliveira bridge is a cable-stayed bridge in São Paulo, Brazil over the Pinheiros River. The bridge deck is unusual due to its form, which is similar to an "X", crossing at the tower. At the end of December lights are put up on the cables and illuminated to create color effects like those on a Christmas tree.
18. 'Infinite Bridge,' Denmark
Built by the Danish architecture firm Gjøde & Povlsgaard Arkitekter for Sculpture by the Sea 2015, a festival celebrating the scenic coastal landscape surrounding the city of Aarhus, Denmar, 'Infinite Bridge' is a circular, walkable structure that spans from the sandy shore out to sea, elevated just above the surface of the water, depending on the tide, according to Design Boom. The wooden bridge, which is located where a historic jetty once stood, measures 623 feet in circumference and about 197 feet in diameter. It provides 360-degree views of various landscapes, from the port city in the horizon to the seaside to the beach and the forest inland, says Inhabitat. On June 6, 2015, 12 couples got married on the Infinite Bridge.