Suspension Bridge in Pitigala, Sri Lanka
Engineers Without Borders
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology e.V., Germany
In 2013, a very special project was carried out 6000 km away in Pitigala, Sri Lanka. A bridge was designed, calculated and built by 30 students who are part of the German university team called "Engineers Without Borders - Karlsruhe Institute of Technology", who are implementing development projects in seven different countries.
With a span length of 30 m, the bridge spans the Bentara river. Both soldiers and villagers supported the German students during the fourteen‑week construction phase.
Joachim Gauck, the president of Germany, said: “With its great practical value and its successful design, the bridge in Pitigala is a lasting sign of the commitment which is able to unite people.”
The future civil engineers designed the prestressed suspension bridge in such a way that it is easy to construct and also flexible. After all, the structure should be built without heavy building equipment by amateur craftsmen who have, at the most, little site experience. In addition, it was required that the bridge be reproducible for other projects.
The six‑meter‑high steel pylons were given releases at the base which could be fixed later. The pylons were erected by means of chain hoists and a bamboo crane.
The walk area of the bridge consists of 21 identical segments. The longitudinal beams as well as the cross beams are made of angle irons that are connected with simple bolt connections. Planks were used for the floor covering.
The entire walkway structure has a thickness of only a few centimeters. Thus, the bridge's contact surface is rather small in case of a monsoon. The walk area is curved upward and fits smartly into the landscape.
During the construction work, the students took the roles of construction workers, teachers, site managers, controllers, physicians, concrete technologists, geotechnical engineers, architectural draftsmen, project managers, mechanics and psychologists.
For the construction of the bridge, a total of 70 tons of concrete, 6 tons of steel and 42 cubic meters of gabion rocks were transported, prepared and assembled with pure man power.
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