Equitable Development Conference

Ann Arbor, MI
21 Feb 2019

YPO Edge Conference 2019

Cape Town, South Africa
06 Mar 2019



Venice, Italy


Lightspine proposes a lightweight timber bridge of preassembled mass customised modular components that lace together. It can be rapidly assembled and has been developed as a fast but elegant response to emergency situations (e.g. post-earthquake in Haiti and Chile).

In the Lighspine project, sustainably reared timber forms the central component, seamlessly blending treads and risers into single monolithic milled masses that can be neatly and rapidly transported and assembled in situ. The bridge ties together a progression of timber vertebrae along a pair of curving catenary cables following a line of optimized structural efficiency.


In the proposal for the XII Venice Biennale, the vertebrae stack together under compression to form an extremely lightweight necklace of components that appear to float above the water. The catenary form describes the static weight of the bridge’s mass. The integrated lighting system then delicately mirrors real-time traffic, slowly fluctuating to make visual the force of footsteps upon it and the internal stresses in the vertebrae.

CREDITS carlorattiassociati | walter nicolino & carloratti. Team: Carlo Ratti, Giovanni de Niederhäusern, Alberto Bottero, Walter Nicolino. Consultants: ARUP Advanced Geometry Unit, Team: Cecil Balmond, Daniel Bosia. Atmos Studio, Team: Alex Haw