Of the many structures Leonardo da Vinci designed, perhaps none made more ingenious use of materials than his practical design for an easy-to-assemble, self-supporting bridge.
Here's a father and son demonstrating its construction in their backyard, without using a single tool:
As you can see they've used no fasteners, since the structure is designed to support itself. But in da Vinci's original design, notches were meant to be cut into the timbers to add greater security to the structure.
The design is not limited to just the five crossmembers depicted above. Here's one with nine crossmembers, erected as decoration in the German city of Freiburg.
And as an example of this design in practical use, here's da Vinci's design serving as the support structure for this footbridge in Morsø in northern Denmark.
You might be wondering how strong the design is. Well, here's a version erected out of construction lumber in Stuttgart, Germany, with the city's Mayor being driven across it:
That was at an event last year celebrating traditional carpentry. (The folks you see wearing black hats and vests have donned traditional German builders' garb.) Incredibly, the 10-meter-span structure was assembled by eight apprentices and two masters in about ten minutes! Here's how they did it:
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The documentary is from NOVA ( https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/lostempires/china/builds.html ) about the design that predates da Vinci by several hundreds of years. Check out http://happypontist.blogspot.com/2018/07/chinas-unique-woven-timber-arch-bridges.html to read up on the Rainbow Bridge.
This type of bridge already studied in an tv documentary, where engineers and historians recreated an historic self supporting bridge built long time ago in China, there are limitions of this type of design.
Find Grandpa Amu on YouTube, where he demo ancient Chinese woodworking traditions. In his most popular video he builds a Rainbow Bridge just the right size for his grandbaby.
Leonardo da Vinci FTW. So awesome.