A prototype bridge, based on the concept of building a vaulted system suitable for a variety of purposes very quickly using ‘poor’ materials, caused quite a stir at the recent Marmomacc exhibition in Verona, Italy.
Known as the ‘Flex Bridge’, it comprises two flexible arches supporting walk-over wooden slats, mounted on two four-sided en bloc shoulders. The flexible arch is an example of a self-balancing system and has a reinforced arch installed without the need for any support; it is pre-assembled on the ground and then hoisted into position on the abutments using a crane.
This new technique, already in use with concrete buildings, is inspired by a concrete system patented in Ireland which was developed through collaboration between Queen’s University of Belfast and Macrete Ltd – but never before experimented with natural stone.
The major innovation of this new system lies in the fact that it does not require the use of any frameworks in the construction stages. This enormous advantage places the system truly in the forefront regarding speed and simplicity in the installation stage as well as for site use – even including archaeological sites – where it would be impossible to use frameworks while setting up the project.