An artist from the United Kingdom completed a project that proves once and for all that paper beats rock. Well, it proves that paper is at least equal to rock when it comes to bridge building.
Steve Messam used upwards of 22,000 bright red sheets of paper to create the arch commissioned by the area’s culture council, according to Gizmodo.
Loose paper might not be the obvious go-to for bridge building equipment, but Messam said he use same basic architectural principles that have been used to make small footbridges for thousands of years.
The bridge is self-supporting and is kept standing through two wire cages filled with local stones that make the base on either end. The bridge’s paper arch is aligned to ensure the weight pressing down is distributed to the stone base.
“The weight (downward force) is transferred into lateral thrust by the arch construction, therefore most of the weight bearing is on the stone gabions, not on the paper,” Messam said to Dezeen. “It relies on vernacular architectural principles as used in the drystone walls and the original pack-horse bridges, which have stood, in many cases, for more than a century.”
The principles may have been in place, but Messam spent three years finalizing the design and construction. A plywood frame was built to carefully stack the sheets from the stone bases into an arch.
Grown adults, children even livestock can safely walk across the paper without concern of the paper slipping away into the small creek below.
Water might be a natural enemy to a sheet of paper, but not even rain can put a damper on Messam’s bridge. What normally makes paper weak actually makes the PaperBridge stronger. The paper expands when it absorbs the water and makes the arch tighter.
The bridge only stood for 10 days ending May 18, but the bright red paper was sent back for recycling to the local manufacturer who initially supplied the uncoated paper stock, James Cropper.