2021 was a good year for pedestrian bridges. We present five iconic examples of them.
Architects do not only plan and design buildings; no, sometimes they also devote themselves to the beautiful form of bridges. How handsome and original this can sometimes be was once again demonstrated last year. Below we present five iconic pedestrian bridges that were built in 2021.
Drift Bridge, Volkan Alkanoglu
Traditionally, there was no crossing over a creek in Fort Worth, Texas for a distance of seven residential blocks. That changed in 2021 with the Drift Bridge, which benefits more than just the neighborhoods on either side of the water it connects. In fact, Volkan Alkanoglu’s approximately 19-meter-long wooden bridge is so “naturally” shapely that it also adds tremendous visual interest to the creek landscape. The design was based on the premise of including the use of sustainable materials and creating minimal impact on the natural habitat on site. Accordingly, the wave-shaped work of art was prefabricated by machine in an environmentally friendly manner and then lifted into place and installed by crane.
© Peter Molick
Onda Atlántica Pedestrian Bridge, Checa Arquitectura, Onda Arquitectura
Depending on where you are coming from, the Onda Atlántica pedestrian bridge in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria elegantly describes first a small, then an enormously sweeping arch – or vice versa – with which it sinuously connects Las Canteras beach with the Sanapu wharf. Over its total length of 283 meters, the work by the offices of Checa Arquitectura and Onda Arquitectura comprises three column-free bridge spans, each 63 meters long. The curves not only allowed trees to remain on site, but also avoided expansion joints in the bridge. A distinctive hull-like edge on the underside provides soundproofing against the highway below.
© Iwan Baan
Floating Islands of Sky, unarchitecte
Many will be reminded of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Floating Piers, but unlike the large-scale temporary installation, the Floating Islands of Sky in Chengdu are designed to last ten years before being renewed and transformed at the same time. The pontoon bridge by unarchitecte connects the C9 Food Street of LUXES’ Island in Luxelakes Water City – a tourist-oriented artificial recreation area – with the artwork “Chengdu Rainbow Hut” by Japanese artist Tsuneo Sekiguchi. Compared to the Christo/Jeanne-Claude installation, the “floating sky islands” appear rather restrained. So much so, in fact, that they sometimes disappear – parts of the bridge are “hydrophilic” and lie a small distance below the surface of the water to bring the sky reflectively down to earth.
© unarchitecte (He Yao, ZHANG Hetian)
Park Union Bridge, Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Rarely has a pedestrian bridge looked as aerodynamic as the new Park Union Bridge in Colorado Springs. The architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro were already responsible for the adjacent complex of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum and drew their inspiration for the structure from the gravity-defying movements of athletes. Nevertheless, it is reminiscent of high-speed trains, airplanes, or hyperloop shuttles – in other words, anything that is crazy fast. The approximately 75-meter-long curved steel structure bridges an active track bed in what feels like weightlessness and connects the museum with America the Beautiful Park. At its widest point, where the structure’s two interlocking loops form an eye, the bridge becomes an observation deck.
© Jason O'Rear
Murdoch’s Connection Bridge, Arup, Matter Architecture
Murdoch’s Connection Bridge in Hull, England, also has a somewhat avian feel and undoubtedly forms a new landmark in the port city. The 40-meter-long roadway is suspended from a striking hybrid arch-and-shell steel structure that doubles as a canopy and curves upward at the ends to create sheltered vantage points. Despite the dense development, public plazas were created on both sides of the highway to be bridged as part of the bridge’s construction. As a result, the bridge, designed by Arup and Matter Architects, not only serves as a gateway to the old city, but also provides new attractive public space.
© Luke O'Donovan