Joris Smits: world’s first bio-composite footbridge
October 26, 2016
World’s first bio-composite footbridge is a fact.
The footbridge across the river Dommel in Eindhoven spans 14 meters and is from now on world’s biggest object made in bio-composites. Our architect Joris Smits participated in the project in his capacity as a researcher at Delft University of Technology.
The bridge constitutes a milestone in terms of sustainability. Locally grown and strong plant fibers from hemp and flax form the basis of the structure. The fibers are draped around a core made out of biological PLA foam and cork. By means of vacuum injection a bio-resin was then sucked through the fiber layers. After curing this forms a very strong and stiff monocoque beam structure. The experimental bridge will stay on location for the period of 1 year. A total of 28 sensors will monitor the deflection of the bridge over the course of these four seasons.
The design of the bio-based footbridge is the result of an optimization process between mechanical and esthetical properties. This has resulted in a slender beam with a triangular cross section. The beam is very stiff and strong and has an organic appearance. “the bio-based nature of the bridge is reflected in the fluent lens shape of the beam and in the fan-like pattern of the parapet fingers that resemble waving grass. The bridge shows the plasticity that can be achieved with vacuum injected molding techniques.” says architect and researcher at Delft University of Technology Joris Smits.
The bridge is the result of the 4TU Lighthouse research project ‘B3: Fully Bio-Based composite pedestrian Bridge’. The partners in the project are Eindhoven University of Technology (Patrick Teuffel, Rijk Blok), Delft University of Technology (Joris Smits, Rafail Gkaidatzis), bio-composite manufacturer NPSP (Mark Lepelaar, Willem Böttger) and the Center of Expertise Biobased Economy (Alwin Hoogendoorn, Jasper Sluis). The project was co-financed by Stichting Innovatie Alliantie (SIA).