A bridge from past to future

 Date:14/09/2006 - 07/01/2007
 Type:Culture, Architecture
 Location:England, London

Leonardo da Vinci never saw his 'Golden Horn Bridge', designed in 1502 for Sultan Bajazet II of Constantinople (now Istanbul), constructed. But now, thanks to Norwegian artist, Vebjørn Sand, the world can see a scale model of the bridge as Leonardo designed it. The 15-foot-long steel bridge model will be on exhibit and open to the public at the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London.

Vebjørn Sand and team worked with the Norwegian Public Roads Administration to build a pedestrian bridge based on Leonardo’s design. The hi-tech glue lam timber version of the design opened to foot and bicycle traffic in the township of Ås, Norway in October, 2001. The global Leonardo Bridge Project came into being in 2002 to inspire construction of the design in countries around the world.  Projects for China, Japan, France and the United States - and hopes to finally construct the Project in Istanbul – are currently being discussed.  A public art project on Majorca, in the Balearic Islands to build an authentic hand-hewn stone version of the design is also fundraising.

The Leonardo Bridge Project is a non-profit goodwill arts project whose goal is to inspire communities around the world to construct the design the Wall Street Journal calls a “logo for the nations.” The idea is that creating public landmarks based on the eloquent geometry and powerful metaphor of this bridge can remind us of our shared human aspirations for culture, beauty and vibrant public life. 

Leonardo’s bridge was to cross the Golden Horn inlet and would have an unheard of span of 240 meters.  Leonardo’s brilliant innovation allowing such a dynamic span was based on combining three familiar geometrical structures:  the pressed-bow, the keystone arch and the parabolic curve. The flared footholds on each end of the structure gave the bridge its characteristic graceful bow tie shape. These structural innovations were 300 years ahead their time so the project was never completed.

The Leonardo Bridge Project projects are not “cookie-cutter” replicas built exactly alike. Instead, they are a creative collaboration between Sand’s team and local architects and artisans to construct variations on its geometrical themes in materials unique to each locality and informed by its location. As architect, David Hewitt said, “I consider myself a modernist and resist copying anything from the past.  But this bridge intrigues me because it is like a brilliant passage of music, fresh with every new interpretation.”

Leonardo da Vinci: Experience, Experiment and Design
14 September 2006 - 7 January 2007

Timed tickets are in operation. Advance booking is strongly recommended In person at the V&A - in advance or on day of visit Full: £7. Senior Citizens, students, ES40 holders and 12-17 yr olds: £5. Family tickets: £12/£8. No booking fee. Advance telephone and online booking 0870 906 3883 or Full: £8.20. Senior citizens, students, ES40 holders and 12-17 yr olds: £5.75. Family tickets: £19.50/£12.25. Prices inclusive of all booking fees.

V&A South Kensington
Cromwell Road
London SW7 2RL
Tel. 020 7942 2000

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The Norwegian artist Vebjørn Sand is one of the driving forces behind the Leonardo Bridge projectPhoto: Marius Renberg, Subtopia

A bridge, based on Leonardo da Vinci's original design, was built in Ås, Norway, in 2001Photo: Knut Bry