The Incredible Route of the Dragon

The imagination is only limited by our intellect and our reasoning, not by the materials that we use.

Detalle del puente Dragón de Vietnam. Nghi Nguyen
Komodo Resort
Komodo Resort

Hi, I love the legends, when I was small I was very fan of Bruce Lee, as you know, the most famous fighter of martial arts of the history written and televised. But, outside of the legend, there was an inspiring, honest man and who loved martial arts, to such an extent that he created one, the JeetKune Do. In his honor, and recalling that he was born in the year of the Dragon and the Dragon hour (between 5 and 8 in the morning) I decided to put on my list to build my future (and fabulous) building, the Komodo Island (or island of the Dragon).

When I was in the Hotel Komodo, a resort whose specialty is the cruises of diving, on the terrace of the bungalow where I staying, I remembered that I had heard one thing, in the present century, have built two bridges of the Dragon, «with than I like the bridges and I haven’t crossed these, one failure for me, Rodolfo!», I thought and, a few hours after, I was already heading to my first destination: the Dragon bridge of Alcalá de Guadaira (you know that I don’t like very much to wait).

Puente del Dragón en Alcalá de Guadaira
Dragon Bridge in Alcala de Guadaira

Always is a pleasure visit Andalusia, I still remember the last time that I was by the matter of the Almohad plaster, was a pleasant surprise to discover that, to some extent, the bridge had a lot to do with the Almohad style. They built it to cross the Guadaira River and they called it «The Guardian of the Castle«, obviously because it is in the foothills of the Castle Hill, whose visit is indispensable if you travel to the place.

It’s the first figurative bridge in Spain and also in Europe. It was designed and built by the engineers José Luis ManzanaresJapón and IñigoBarahonaFernández, which they presented their design to a competition organised by the Government of Andalusia, but whose final election was passed by the hands of the citizens of the population, a kind of voting convened by the council of Alcala de Guadaira which obtained (nothing more and nothing less than) 95% of the votes: they won.

Vista aérea del Puente Dragón de Alcalá de Guadaira
Vista aérea del Puente Dragón de Alcalá de Guadaira

Its inauguration occurred on March 28 in 2007. The bridge has a length of 123 meters and a width of 22.6 meters where you will find four roads (two of exit and two back) and two sidewalks. The beauty of the construction is indisputable, as well as its simplicity in what refers to structural performance, of course, a central beam supported on three pillars and two extreme which have the walkways in cantilevered.

All the arches are clad of trencadis of ceramic with multiple colors, simulating the skin of the Dragon, as had the own Gaudí, in Barcelona, in total they covered a surface of 4,500 square meters by this system. By the way, without the Gaudí master, it may not be understood the architecture current, this man was so important. The Dragon looks with hate who dares to cross the River in direction to the Castle, his open mouth threatens with devour you, and if you manage to escape, the queue wait for you on the other side of the bridge. Maybe don’t believe me, but I almost weep of emotion while I contemplated this beautiful work.

Detalle del Puente Dragón de Alcalá de Guadaira. Foto: flickr
Detail Dragon Bridge Alcalá de Guadaira. (Photo: flickr)

The distance between the supports of the Central arches is 43 meters each, the end support is only 18 m. For the stability of slabs, the pressurising system was used which ensures the enough tension at the ends that flying, this reduces their singing to 21 centimetres, being the width in its axis of 1.21 meters, as if they were wings of a «mythological animal».The body of the dragon have two meters wide transmitting the loads to the ground with 12 piles of reinforced concrete of 1,500 mm of diameter and 20 meters deep, which are anchored to one pile of great thick (this pile is a foundation whose function is to pass the burden of the structural element to the micro piles).

The Ulma company was contracted to carry out the scaffolding on which carry out the construction process, and the Valero Groupwas responsible for the creation of the mould of EPS (expanded polystyrene) for concreting the central structure of the dragon, as well as the specials parts for their ends (head and tail). The concrete poured, because of the shape of the structure had to be self-consolidating, this concrete does not need vibrated and not is segregated, so we can pour into the interior of a formwork with security of that  the mass will be well distributed, I do not know how we have been able to build without it until today.

Detalle de la cabeza del Dragón. Foto: panoramio
Detail of the head of the Dragon. (Photo: Panoramio)

Now we let Seville to go to Viet Nam, whose region is not unknown, do you remember when we were in a bar of bamboo? I called it «The path of the Dragon» and you can walk its 14.764 kilometres of separation in 180 hours if you go by car (a little more if you decide to rest) or take a plane and save 160 hours. The second bridge of the Dragon lies on the river Han, in the city of Da Nang, and it has been baptized with the name of Rong.

Some persons says that its designers, Amman and Whitney Consulting Engineers of Louis Berger Group, were based on «the Guardian of the Castle» for the project, personally, I don’t think so, even though of the parallelism must be taken into account that the Vietnamese culture is very attached to this mythological animal, in fact, the bridge has shape of Shenglong , a dragon of the Ly dynasty. In addition, the city (one of the most prosperous of the country) is called the «city of bridges». Its construction began in 2009 and opened on 5 April of 2013.

Puente del Dragón en Vietnam. Foto: wikipedia
Dragon Bridge in Vietnam. Photo: wikipedia

It is a cable-stayed bridge, which simulates (obviously) a dragon, it meanders in such a way that the lower part becomes the bridge columns and the upper part serves for the structure of cable-stayed. Its main body is constructed in steel and weighs 9,000 tons. Crosses a distance of 666 metres, has 36 meters wide and houses six lanes and two walkways.

The budget was of 85 million dollars (76 million euros) and pays homage to the 38 anniversary of the liberation of the city. It has installed 2,500 Led (always led) lights that illuminate the bridge with different colours. But the biggest attraction that I have found is in its powerful mouth of Dragon, which is able to eject (normally Saturdays and Sundays at 21:00) jets of fire and water, impressive. 

Detalle del puente Dragón de Vietnam. Nghi Nguyen
Detail Dragon Bridge Vietnam. Photo: Nguyen Nghi

I don’t have to explain that the two bridges have become, for different reasons, in two spectacular rides and tourist reclamations for their respective localities, it is commendable that the administration use the theatrics or the figuration to make fantastic works of engineering. For my part, I have decided that, in my building, I will include a swimming pool with a bridge, you not need that I tell the form of my bridge. Bye bye.

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