Are Glass Bridges Safe? | China’s 100 m High Bridge Collapse | SR News Update

A 100 mt high glass bridge was left shattered when it was hit by a sudden strong weather. The incident put a question mark on the rapidly increasing number of glass bridges being constructed across the globe. A report by SURFACES REPORTER (SR).

Tragic Incident

In a tragic incident, a man was left stranded from a 100 mt bridge at Piyan Mountain in Longjing city of China when a sudden change in weather coupled with strong winds shattered the transparent panels of the glass-bottomed bridge. While the person was unharmed, he has been sent to the hospital for assessment and counselling.

Zhangjiajie National Park

The incident occurred when the glass bridge was hit by the strong winds having the speed of almost 150 km per hour that blew out several glass panels. The accident led to the trapping of the lone tourist who could be rescued by firefighters, police, and forestry and tourism personnel more than half an hour later. The photos and video of the incident were shared on Chinese microblogging site, Weibo.

Read more: Open Architecture Envisions Six Iceberg-Shaped Glass Structures For Shenzhen Maritime Museum | China

Need for glass bridges

Glass bridges have become a popular phenomenon to attract thrill-seeking tourists. There are more than two thousands glass bridges in China with even more number of Glass walkways and slide. The highest and longest among them is Zhangjiajie National Park bridge in Hunan province which stretches 430 metres across a canyon, 300 metres in the air. In 2019, following the death of a tourist, China had carried out the safety assessment of most of its glass bridges. However, a sudden bad weather and high influx of tourist activities still remain a major concern for the safety of people on such bridges and walkways.

Zhangjiajie National Park
Zhangjiajie National Park, Hunan, China

Glass Bridges in India

India too has joined the bandwagon of Glass bridges with the opening of Pelling Skywalk in Sikkim which is situated at a height of 7,200 feet above sea level.

Zhangjiajie National Park
Pelling Walkway, Sikkim, India

A similar bridge is set to open in Bihar's Rajgir built as a part of Nature Safari of the historical Budh Marg. Meanwhile, another bridge has been approved in Uttarakhand across the River Ganga in Rishikesh as an alternative to the famed Lakshman Jhula.

Ar Kuber Patel, Director, KPA Deesign Studio providing his opinion about the use of glass in India, says "Glass bridges are a necessary evil for India to attract thrill-seeking tourism. A human fascination for heights will always compel us to find an effective solution for glass bridge construction after witnessing the collapse of the bridge at Piyan mountain in Longjing city in China. Weather extremities have always had major infrastructure damages be at any material and the blame should not fall on the use of glass in the construction industry. Glass is probably the only material in the market that can help humans engage with nature while simultaneously creating a definitive protective layer. "

"I believe the concerns with glass in the application of facade and flooring occur at different stages of the project. However, the design and engineering team can make a conscious effort alongside the client for achievable solutions. Particularly in India the health and safety regarding glass facades or flooring are highly ignored and should be considered more sincerely. I believe thermal performance, acoustic quality, material handling, fire safety, breaking & falling of the particles are the concerns that should be addressed while working with glass," he added further.

Amidst all this hype surrounding the glass bridges, there is a crucial need of a deep analysis as whether such bridges can actually withstand and sustain the pressure of extreme weather conditions or will we wait for an accident similar to China but at a much larger scale?

Zhangjiajie National Park
Rajgir Glass bridge, Bihar, India

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