Floating Islands of Sky: Between Sky and Sea

October 14, 2022

The Floating Islands of Sky in Chengdu are not only unique as a permanent pontoon bridge. They are also in a state of seemingly permanent dissolution.

Pontoon bridges are usually of a temporary nature; after all, one might as well build a “real” bridge otherwise. However, the Floating Islands of Sky in Chengdu, China, show that this supposed rule is by no means set in stone. The floating structure designed by unarchitecte is to remain in its current form for ten years before it is renovated and rebuilt in a different form. What will presumably remain after this redesign, however, is the actual concept: while part of the bridge rises out of the water as small islands – some of them with places to stay – the “hydrophilic”, water-permeable part that connects them is slightly below the surface of the water and reflects the sky above.

0004_NEU© unarchitecte (He Yao, ZHANG Hetian)

According to the basic idea, the bridge connecting the C9 Food Street of LUXES' Island in Luxelakes Water City with the artwork “Chengdu Rainbow Hut” should give the appearance of its own dissolution. A dynamically retractable steel cable connected to the pontoon bridge ensures that it is loaded to its rated water level even without additional load, and thus remains stable in its position underwater. This also allows the structure to flexibly adjust its height to changes in water level and generally by a few centimeters without sinking or wobbling. The partially perforated walkways are made of sandblasted stainless steel, both to make them disappear visually as much as possible and to give them some slip resistance.

0002_NEU© unarchitecte (He Yao, ZHANG Hetian)