A fire-breathing dragon may seem like something out of a storybook, but the people of Da Nang, Vietnam, have brought this mystical creature to life with the magnificent Dragon Bridge. The bridge, which spans the Han River, serves as a connector between the Da Nang International Airport and the area's most popular beaches and downtown area. This spectacular example of engineering, which is shaped like a dragon and literally breathes fire, was inaugurated on March 29, 2013, to commemorate both the country's rich history and the 38th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War.
Construction of the bridge began in 2009 and cost a reported US$85 million. The sloping steel arch that makes up the dragon's body is the longest structure of its kind in Vietnam, measuring a total of 1,191 ft (568 m) and weighing more than 2,000 tons. The main stretch of the 123 ft (37.5 m) wide bridge is bookended by two 420 ft (128 m) side sections. To create the illusion of an enormous dragon soaring through the sky, a dragon's head is perched on one end of the structure, a tail on the other.
Designers turned to LED lighting because of its superior ability to create stunning effects and light shows — like the ones needed to bring the highly-anticipated bridge to life. But even with the lighting expertise provided by Philips Color Kinetics, illuminating the bridge was no easy feat. To understand the bridge's cultural significance and unique lighting requirements, a Philips Color Kinetics team visited the New York-based architect who designed the entire project. Philips Vietnam then contracted specialized teams to oversee the various aspects of the project — lighting design, mechanical installation, electrical installation, and so on. Philips Color Kinetics collaborated with the project owners and the lead lighting designer in Da Nang. During installation, the team carefully tested every section of the lighting for quality and effectiveness before proceeding, ensuring that the installation ran smoothly.
The outcome of the dynamic collaboration is dazzling. The bridge is illuminated with more than 2,500 Philips Color Kinetics LED lighting fixtures, all of which boast the advantages that Philips Color Kinetics is known for: reliability, low maintenance, low energy consumption, and superior light quality. Fourteen ColorReach Compact Powercore floodlights illuminate each downward curve of the dragon's body and the length of its tail. Over 850 ColorBurst Powercore spotlights and 1,500 nodes of iColorFlex LMX span the top of the bridge, lighting up the dragon's body. The dragon's dynamic head is highlighted by two ColorReach Powercore fixtures. For special occasions, the dragon is equipped to spit water or breathe fire, leaving residents and tourists of the city in awe. Restaurants arrange special seating areas that overlook the majestic bridge, and photographers often use it as a backdrop.
As a symbol of the Ly Dynasty, the dragon is a meaningful creature in Vietnamese folklore.
In the lore, the dragon is known for flying to the sea and bringing back good luck. Residents hope that with a dragon soaring high through their sky, luck will continue to shine on the bustling city. And with the onslaught of media and spectator acclaim that the bridge has brought in, it seems as if they won't be disappointed.
"This achievement is the result of the determination of Da Nang's leaders and the consensus of the local people," Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc announced at the unveiling ceremony. "The government always supports Da Nang in its efforts to become the center of economic, cultural, and economic development in the central and Central Highlands region, as well as the country."