In 1502 Leonardo da Vinci made a simple drawing of a graceful bridge with a single span of 720-feet. Da Vinci designed the bridge as part of a civil engineering project for Sultan Bajazet II of Constantinople (Istanbul.) The bridge was to span the Golden Horn, an inlet at the mouth of the Bosphorus River in what today is Turkey. But, the bridge was never built.
Leonardo's "Golden Horn" Bridge is a perfect "pressed-bow." Leonardo surmised correctly that the classic keystone arch could be stretched narrow and substantially widened without losing integrity by using a flared foothold, or pier, and the terrain to anchor each end of the span. It was conceived 300 years prior to its engineering principals being generally accepted. It was to be 72 feet-wide (24 meters), 1080-foot total length (360 meters) and 120 feet (40 meters) above the sea level at the highest point of the span.
Norwegian painter and public art creator, Vebjørn Sand, saw the drawing and a model of the bridge in an exhibition on da Vinci's architectural & engineering designs in 1996. The power of the simple design overwhelmed him. He conceived of a project to bring its eternal beauty to life. The Norwegian Leonardo Bridge Project makes history as the first of Leonardo's civil engineering designs to be constructed for public use.
Vebjørn Sand took the project to the Norwegian Public Roads Administration. Though hardly a visionary organization, when Sand presented the project the reaction was unanimous. "Everyone on the project knew we would be making something more than another boring bridge," Sand says of his meetings with government officials, "We would be making history."
Conceptually, Vebjørn Sand sees the project as a vivid meeting between the functional and esthetical worlds. It is a reminder that the technology the human race has come to consider a necessary part of daily life, was possible only by the deep faith the great geniuses of Western art and science had in the spiritual reality of the natural world. Nature now almost trivialized by the very pervasive-ness of these inventions. The bridge unites the past with the present, and expresses the greatest and the most beautiful aspect of Renaissance art and science. That is a meeting between heaven and earth, between the spiritual and the material realms. (More)