In honor of its 45th anniversary, Land Rover has driven its flagship Range Rover luxury SUV across a bridge made of paper. The freestanding structure in Suzhou, China, spanned five metres without glue or bolts to hold it in place.
Land Rover commissioned the unique bridge to mark the 45th anniversary of its Range Rover family and to highlight 45 years of Range Rover innovation ahead of the Guangzhou Motor Show in China.
The hand-built paper bridge took three days to construct in the ancient water city of Suzhou, which is famous for its bridges and nicknamed ‘Venice of the East’. The unique crossing was made of high-quality paper supplied by specialist British manufacturer James Cropper PLC.
The jaw-dropping anniversary drive is the latest in a long line of industry firsts for Land Rover’s flagship SUV. Range Rover was the world’s first ever luxury SUV when it debuted in 1970 and was the first vehicle to drive across the Darien Gap in Central America two years later. In 1989 it was first 4×4 to be fitted with ABS anti-lock brakes and introduced both Electronic Traction Control and electronic air suspension to the sector in 1992.
The latest fourth-generation model was the first all-aluminium SUV when it debuted in 2012. Its innovative lightweight aluminium body provides a total vehicle saving of up to 420kg compared to using traditional steel.
Land Rover Experience Chief Instructor Chris Zhou was entrusted with negotiating the anniversary paper bridge, using a variety of all-terrain technologies to preserve the delicate fabric of the unique structure. Range Rover is available with a series of innovative features that combine to provide unrivalled all-terrain capability including Terrain Response 2 and All-Terrain Progress Control.
Terrain Response 2 features an auto mode which, when selected, optimises a range of vehicle settings to enhance all-terrain capability without any input from the driver.
All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) allows drivers to concentrate purely on steering the vehicle when negotiating difficult or slippery terrain by maintaining a set speed ranging from 1mph to 19mph without any pedal inputs. The intelligent technology enhances all-terrain capability and can be activated on the move or from a standstill, to help when pulling away on tricky surfaces, and even works in reverse gear.
The industry-first technology can assist drivers when pulling away on slippery wet grass – a demanding surface for even experienced off-road drivers – by ensuring minimal wheelspin, and even help to drive the vehicle out of deep sand.
Nick Rogers, Director Group Engineering, Jaguar Land Rover, said: “China is an important market for Range Rover, so we have picked the perfect place to celebrate 45 years of our luxury SUV family. Range Rover’s advanced lightweight body and peerless all-terrain capability were crucial factors in making this unique drive possible.”
Artist and paper bridge designer, Steve Messam, said: “Paper structures capable of supporting people have been built before but nothing on this scale has ever been attempted. It’s pushing engineering boundaries, just like the Range Rover, and the ease and composure with which the vehicle negotiated the arch was genuinely breathtaking.”
Range Rover is the ultimate luxury SUV and combines sophisticated exterior design with class-leading all-terrain capability and exquisite interior refinement.
Construction of the bridge began with the assembly of a pair of specially designed wooden abutments. Paper was then stacked on these supports using a temporary framework to hold them in place. Once complete, this was removed leaving a freestanding 3.4-metre high paper arch spanning five metres.
The sustainably sourced paper will be repurposed by Land Rover with the remainder recycled locally for reuse in China.
Steve Messam is an environmental artist based in the North of England. With his site-specific installations, he sets visual accents in rural or urban settings, which include historical relics and vacant architecture that make us perceive the familiar environment in a new way. He is also interested in space: the interaction of art and audience within confined and open spaces, the role of aesthetics and the physical experience.
As an artist Steve Messam has worked primarily outside the gallery environment for the past 18 years. His works include ‘Beached’ (2007), in which he filled a beach with thousands of sandcastles and paper flags;‘PaperBridge’ (2015) – a functioning packhorse bridge made from 22,000 sheets of paper in the Lake District; ‘Clad’ (2009) – a traditional timber-framed cottage wrapped in the fleece of 300 local sheep in Newtown, Wales and ‘Carpet’ (2013) – an installation of 25,000 jars of coloured ink in Lindisfarne Priory. He created the first off-site installation at the 2006 Shanghai Biennial and created a number of site-specific installations across the Venetian Lagoon during the 2009 Venice Biennale.
Steve regularly works with private businesses and the non-arts sector exploiting the parallel values of art and landscape and working towards a more sustainable model for individual rural arts practice.
James Cropper PLC
Based in the Lake District, England’s first and foremost National Park, with a paper-making heritage that started in 1845. Since its inception the business has been carefully stewarded and nurtured by six generations of the Cropper family.
Today the business is renowned globally for its luxury packaging papers, which accompany many of the world’s most exclusive brands, while the world’s leading artists, galleries and museums use its framing and archival boards alongside its range of conventional artists materials. As well as paper products, James Cropper also manufactures nonwovens from carbon, glass and polymer fibres, which play a key part in production of composites in the automotive, energy and aerospace sectors.
Celebrating 170 years of experience in the art of paper manufacture in 2015, James Cropper PLC, works with environmentally sustainable suppliers to produce a selection of high quality stock and made-to-order papers.
To find out more about the innovative production methods, product range, responsible manufacturing principles and history of James Cropper, please visit: www.jamescropper.com
Jaguar Land Rover Graduate Programme
The one-off paper bridge is not Land Rover’s only involvement with paper structures, after kicking off a series of paper-based construction challenges aimed at budding engineers last month.
The Jaguar Land Rover initiative tasks students to build the longest paper bridge possible using one newspaper. Participants are asked to share photographs of their efforts on the Instagram social media network using the tag: @JLR_Graduates. Jaguar Land Rover is accepting applications for its 2016 Graduate and Undergraduate Programmes until 31 December 2015.
To apply, visit http://www.jaguarlandrovercareers.com/