Fudao is a pedestrian network that stretches across the hills of Fuzhou, China. It was conceptualised to enrich the lives of city dwellers by bringing them closer to nature, serving as a connector between the urban cityscape and Fuzhou’s rich natural landscape.
The first-of-its-kind, elevated steel walkway system is a result of integrating aesthetic design with engineering efficiency while effectively preserving the natural environment.
Arup supported LOOK Architects as design engineers on Fudao. We led the structural engineering and vibration analysis for the 6.3km eco-trail that forms part of the wider 19km-long Jin Niu Shan Trans-Urban Connector, stretching northeast of Minjiang.
19km elevated steel walkway
Connecting parts to connect people
Located in the Fujian province, Fuzhou is known as one of the greenest cities in China, surrounded by picturesque hills and mountainous topography. Accelerated urban development has gradually diminished the expanse of its forested regions, reducing the public’s interaction with the surrounding natural environment.
Taking its inspiration from the undulating mountains and traditional roofscapes architecture, LOOK architects developed a kit-of-parts approach that could be variously combined to evoke an organic and curvilinear quality while allowing for seamless mobility through the mountainous environment.
“Fudao is an urban design project of immense scale and civic importance. It is a project that requires great understanding of the urban issues, topography, engineering, landscape and most importantly, one that evokes the local sensibilities and culture.” – Look Boon Gee, Managing Director, LOOK Architects
Constructing an elevated walkway through this undulating terrain presented structural, safety and environmental challenges. Arup’s structural engineers formulated a bridge extension divided into six separate modules that could be systematically connected and dynamically adjusted to the configurations required on the ground. Each module was pre-fabricated with fixed dimensions for easy transportation and assembly.
The connected structure was pieced together and installed onsite to form the entire pedestrian walkway. Pre-fabricating the various parts significantly increased the efficiency of construction while reducing construction time and cost.
An emphasis on preserving nature
Fudao was designed to immerse into its natural landscape and mitigate impacts on the environment. To ensure the respective modules could be easily assembled onsite and to minimise welding, the connections were designed to be bolted. The weight of these modules was limited to reduce the need for heavy lifting equipment onsite. Y-shaped columns to hold up the walkway were designed to blend in naturally with the surroundings with its member plates: nuts and bolts fitted to be inconspicuous.
In keeping with the focus on the environment, the construction of the walkway was designed to minimise felling of trees and ground excavation. Using steel grating for the walkways allows the sufficient sunlight to penetrate through to the underlying vegetation.
Given the undulating terrain, steel, because of its light weight, was chosen for ease of construction. Initial issues relating to vibration and stability were overcome using Arup’s extensive global experience. Arup conducted the necessary footfall analysis to ensure the comfort of pedestrians while keeping the steel sections lighter aesthetically and economically.
This project marks an important milestone for us. We have helped to realise the architectural vision with the constructed structure mirroring the original 3D render in striking detail. Fudao has been well received by the community and serves as a shining example of excellence in design intent and innovative engineering. ”Mak Swee Chiang Associate Principal
A mesmerising journey awaiting the community
A highlight of Fudao is the cantilevered cliff-walk wedged 20m above a cliff face, offering visitors a breath-taking view over the forested valley of Fuzhou. Ground anchors were used to support and secure this stretch of the walkway into the onsite granite geology.
A variety of amenities were also integrated in the design, including a modern columbarium complex, a new visitors’ centre and a food and beverage enclave that serves as the main entry point to the bridge.
Fudao transports visitors from the hustle and bustle of urban living to a tranquil and serene environment, creating a gateway to nature.
*All images courtesy of LOOK Architects Pte Ltd