Innovation comes in all shapes and sizes. Since it’s National Inventors Month, which is a month-long celebration of invention and creativity, we wanted to celebrate by finding some out-of-the-box innovation- and that’s exactly what we did!
What do you get when you mix 20,000 sheets of bright red paper with innovation? The answer, you might ask, is a weight-bearing bridge.
Sure, paper has been and is still used to hold inventors’ ideas, from random thoughts to sketches of their dream inventions. But, a British artist by the name of Steve Messam took this idea to a whole new level when he used 20,000 bright red sheets of paper to invent a bridge across a stream in the United Kingdom’s Lake District.
The Paperbridge project was commissioned by the Lakes Culture tourism organization and is a weight-bearing arch that’s weighted on either side with steel gabions that are filled with local stone.
The eye-catching red bridge was made from a series of “blocks.” These “blocks” were made of two reams of paper, which translates to 1,000 sheets.
In order to get the arch look, arched plywood form was used and placed between the two supports. By doing so, this allowed the blocks to be stacked in position over the water. Between each block were 1.5 degree wedges and the final wedge was hammered into the apex to create the right compression before the wood frame was removed.
You might be shocked to know that the Paperbridge was held together only by compression – not glue!
Just like any invention, there are some roadblocks and for the Paperbridge, this was ensuring that it could withstand weather, curious people and wandering animals.
In fact, the Paperbridge could withstand its own weight- or the equivalent of 60 sheep.
Why the peculiar color? Messam chose the intense red color to highlight and bring out the green of the surrounding hills to make them look even greener.
So how do these 20,000 papers stack up environmentally? Messam was careful to ensure that the total footprint was close to zero. Once the project’s 10-day lifespan ended on May 18, the paper was then taken to a recycling facility.
Are you inspiRED by the Paperbridge?
Copyright Davison, 2015