An incredible “invisible” footbridge, made with mirrored stainless steel and reflective black stone, is being developed in the Hunan province of China.
Suspended 300 metres high between two mountains in the Zhangjiajie Canyon, where earlier this year the world’s longest and highest glass bridge was unveiled, the new structure will feature two parts including a platform with a mirrored exterior and a large hole at its base through which thrillseekers can take in views of the valley below. Or, you could test your head for heights by lying on a “strong net” set up just above the void, according to Designboom.
A two-level observation bridge will form the second part of the structure, featuring an upper level made with a pathway of black stones surrounded by a layer of water sprayed above the stones every seven minutes to create a recurring cloud of mist. As the mist dissipates and lands on the stones, the rocks will become “invisible”, reflecting the surrounding landscape and creating the structure’s optical illusion effect.
The glass-floored lower level of the bridge aims to offer tired walkers a moment of respite, while visitors will also enjoy 360-degree panoramic views from the rooftop of a three-tiered pavilion to be built overlooking the dizzying mountain drop. Visitors will be offered the option of booking overnight stays in the three pavilions’ “exclusive VIP suites”, while a cafe will be housed at the intermediate level.
Designed by Martin Duplantier Architectes (MDA) and Daqian Landscape Architects, the new bridge is expected to cost €5 million (£4.2 million) to build, but an expected completion date is yet to be announced.
The latest development joins a string of other vertigo-inducing attractions around the world, including others in China – such as a 69-metre glass walkway built in the mountains of the Shaanxi Province which was unveiled this July. In the same week, a walkway outside the 88th floor of the Jinmao Tower was opened in Shanghai. Set 340 metres above the ground, visitors are required to attach themselves to the building using a safety rope to scale the walkway.
Back in 2014, a 439 metre-long “footbridge in the sky” was buit in Russia, forming part of the Sochi SkyPark located north-east of the former Winter Olympics host city. Described as the “world’s longest walkway” at the time, the SkyBridge includes two observation platforms, each offering panoramic views of the mountains and the Black Sea coast, while the most intrepid visitors can bungee jump from an observation deck halfway across.
In the US, a vertiginous glass slide known as the Sky Slide was built on the side of the 73-storey US Bank Tower, the tallest skyscraper in Los Angeles, California. Starting on the 70th floor, brave visitors are able to slide down a 45ft-long slide to arrive at an observation platform offering panoramic views of the city from 1,000 feet above ground.
Britain opened its own glass walkway atop Tower Bridge in 2014, though standing just 138 feet above the Thames, the numbers don’t quite rival the glass bridges in China.
Earlier this year, Dubai announced plans to open a new glass-floored walkway on the 80th floor of the tallest skyscraper in the city’s new Akyon City development. Strapped into a harness and secured to a safety rail, daredevils will begin their viewing experience on the 78th floor lounge and dining room, walk along an open-air ledge, and then ascend to the glass “viewing capsule” two floors above at nearly 235 metres (935 feet) above the ground.