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Leonardo's Bridge

Listen Listen to Neal Conan's discussion with Vebjorn Sand.

leonardo's bridge

Leonardo's bridge.
Photo: © Terje Johansen

See an enlarged version

Norwegian "artist and public creator" Vebjørn Sand saw Leonardo da Vinci's drawing of a 240-meter bridge during an exhibition of the great artist's works in 1996. Sand was overwhelmed by the grace and beauty of the design, and he had an idea.

As Sand tells Neal Conan on Talk of the Nation, the design was commissioned in 1502 by Sultan Bajazet II to span the Golden Horn in what is now Turkey, but the bridge was never built. Sand had a thought: What if the bridge were to be built today -- in Norway? The Norwegian Public Roads Administration went along with the idea, and Leonardo's bridge would finally be built, 500 years after it was conceived.

leonardo's bridge

Leonardo's original drawings.

See an enlarged version

The bridge bolsters Leonardo's reputation for being at least as great an engineer as he was an artist. The engineering principle on which the design is based was not generally accepted for 300 years.

That principle holds that the force of an arch can be distributed in wider spans when the foot of the arch is widened. Although Leonardo's design called for a span of 240 meters, Sand's adaptation was held to 65 meters.

Other Resources

For more information and photos, see Vebjorn Sand's Web site.