The well-known Zhaozhou Bridge, also known as Anji Bridge and the Great Stone Bridge, was designed and built by a craftsman named Li Chun in the years 595-605 during the Sui Dynasty(A.D 581-618). The bridge is located in the southern part of Hebei Province in China and spans above the Xiao River. It is the world's oldest and the most well-preserved open-spandrel stone segmental arch bridge. The Zhaozhou Bridge is not only a practical means of transportation but also illustrates the advance in craftsmanship and engineering during the Sui Dynasty. It is a symbol of wisdom of the Chinese working people and produces a huge and profound influence on bridge construction of the world. The Zhaozhou Bridge is about 50.82 meters long and about 10 meters wide. The span of the bridge is 37.02 meters and the bridge arch is 7.23 meters tall. The arch covers a circular segment less than half of a semicircle (84°) and with a radius of 27.27 meters and has a rise-to-span ratio of approximately 0.192 (7.3 to 37 meters). This is considerably smaller than the rise-to-span ratio of 0.5 of a semicircular arch bridge and slightly smaller than the rise-to-span ratio of 0.207 of a quarter of circle. The arch length to span ratio is 1.1, less than the arch-to-span ratio of 1.57 of a semicircle arch bridge by 43%, thus the saving in material is about 40%, making the bridge lighter in weight. The elevation of the arch is about 45°, which subjects the abutments of the bridge to downward force and sideways force. There are three factors why the Zhaozhou Bridge is such a marvelous and innovative masterpiece in the world. To begin with, the novel and bold use of segmental arch changed the traditional form of Chinese bridges which were semi-circular arch model. In ancient China, most of the stone arch bridges were semicircular. Despite the beautiful and complete features of this shape, it also brings some disadvantages. Firstly, semicircular bridge causes the...
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