To celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Town-based architect Mark Thomas teamed up with engineer Henry Fagan to create a 427-foot long elegant, winding bridge that would provide pedestrians with a new vantage point from which to take in Africa's lush greenery. Dubbed Boomslang in honor of a poisonous sub-Saharan snake, the bridge was inspired by the shape and movement of this dangerous reptile.
The bridge is raised, and at times is a full 40 feet above the forest floor. It’s held sturdily in place by galvanized steel and a concrete foundation. The terrain played a large role in the design. The location of various trees dictated where certain columns could be built because the architects wished to keep environmental disruption to a minimum.
“It’s more of a sculpture than a structure that we created,” said Fagan. “We started with what was structurally needed and tried to limit that to the minimum.”
The designers took other steps to keep the distinction between the natural and the artificial as blurred as possible. The decking is made from pine planks, and West African wood was used to construct the hand rails. Additionally, the exposed steel was coated with an algae-attracting paint to encourage the forest to colonize the structure.