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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

LightSpine, Venice Bridge, Venice, Italy 2010 by Carlo Ratti Associati

February 7th, 2011 by Susan Smith

LightSpine proposes a lightweight timber bridge made from prefabricated customised modular components designed and architected by Carlo Ratti Associati, Atmos Studio and engineered by ARUP Advanced Geometry Unit. It can be rapidly assembled and has been developed as an efficient, elegant response to emergency situations (e.g. post-earthquake in Haiti and Chile).

Venice Bridge

Venice Bridge

Architects: carlorattiassociati – walter nicolino & carlo ratti

Carlo Ratti, Walter Nicolino, Giovanni de Niederhausern, Alberto Bottero

26 Corso Quintino Sella 26

10131 Turin Italy

+39 011 8130851


atmos studio

Alex Haw

14 bacon street

London E1 6LF UK

+44 7815 040 619


Structural Engineering:

ARUP Advanced Geometry Unit

Daniel Bosia, Cecil Balmond

13 Fittzroy Street

London W1T 4BQ

+44 (0) 20 7636 1531



The bridge ties together a series of timber vertebrae along a pair of curving catenary cables following a line of optimised structural efficiency. Sustainably sourced timber forms the core material, seamlessly blending the treads and risers into monolithic milled masses that can be neatly and rapidly transported and assembled in situ.


Venice Bridge at night

Venice Bridge at night



a. start with a catenary

b. fill it with a wooden spine

c. invert it into a bridge

d. measure stress and show with light 


Design inspired by a human spine

Design inspired by a human spine

Design features:

• catenary design
• CAD/CAM modular components

• dynamic light visualisation of structural stress; sensors between each timber vertebra measure structural stress, which is represented by light intensity

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