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Wild Water Crossings: 14 Bold & Crazy Bridge Concepts
By Steph,
Web Urbanist, 14 October 2013.

Even ordinary bridges are complex structures, but add in multiple levels,  undulating ribbons of steel, elements that dip into the water or roads that split into scissor-like blades and you’ve got quite a dynamic feat of engineering. Some of those potential feats are a little more achievable than others. These 14 (more!) bridge concepts include a few innovative designs that are actually going to be built, while others have been deemed ‘too crazy’ to ever be real.

1. Entwined Ribbon Bridge for China

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The competition this concept was shortlisted for has been cancelled, so it may never be achieved in physical form. Denton Corker Marshall architects designed this bridge for Jinsha Lake in Hangzhou, with one ribbon offering a flat surface for cyclists, one rising into the air to offer various views, and a third decorative ribbon winding between the first two.

2. Tulip Bridge for Amsterdam

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The ‘petals’ of this wooden bridge blossom and unfold in various configurations throughout the day, variously allowing pedestrians to cross the water or, if they so desire, jump in. Designed by MLBS Architects, the Tulip Bridge functions as a symbolic landmark for Amsterdam. When all of its petals are flat, it makes up a large plaza with plenty of room for the flow of pedestrians, but when all of the petals are raised (except for one that allows entry) it can turn into an exhibition space.

3. Bay Bridge Tourist Park

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The September 2nd, 2013 opening of the new East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge made the old one obsolete: so what to do with it? Some have called for it to be broken up and made into housing, others want to see it converted into a public park. Architects Rael San Fratello have a few tongue-in-cheek designs taking these ideas into consideration. How about bike paths, combing walls, outdoor cinemas, hotel rooms and a giant swimming pool? Together, these ideas may be a little over the top, but they present a few intriguing possibilities.

4. Habitable Bridge for Seville, Spain

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A sinuous bridge mimicking the waves of the river below it could act as a cultural centre of Seville, Spain. This concept incorporates two layers - a sunny, grassy surface on top, and a shaded area with stepped seating closer to the water. The proposal also incorporates an existing tobacco factory, renovating it into an auditorium with a ground level piazza.

5. Parametric Cloud Bridge

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This design doesn’t exactly conform to the general idea of what a bridge is, and should be. Unusual and unexpected, ‘Cloudbridge’ by Arturo Tedeschi architects creates a non-linear path between two points. The shape was determined by an algorithm that produces a cloud-shaped grid balancing the asymmetric loads of the footbridge.

6. Meadows Salford Elliptical Bridge & Landmark

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Viewed from the side, this proposal for the Meadows Salford Bridge Competition by Penda architects looks like a normal suspended bridge - but as you get closer, you see that it opens up into a rounded volume that encircles pedestrians as they cross.

7. Inhabitable Bridge for Amsterdam

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Another inhabitable bridge concept uses laminated wood beams in an unexpected way, as the framework for an undulating form that stretches high into the sky above a canal in Amsterdam. Cafes, restaurants, bike paths and other amenities encourage people to hang out and relax, in an intentional echo of the openness of the city’s culture.

8. Dragon Eco Bridge

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This suspension bridge for the Chongqing municipality in China has a dragon-like shape when viewed from the top, seeming to dip down into the water when seen from the side.

9. Infinity Loop Bridge

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A competition proposal for a gateway to south China’s new planned commercial hub consists of an undulating ribbon that wraps around a six-lane road deck in a continuous loop. The two triangular arches formed by the loop support the road with suspension cables.

10. Lens Bridge

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Designer Nikolay Tsochev envisions the ‘Lens Bridge’ for the River Lea in London, linking the five boroughs together with a structure that’s a recreation space as well as a functional crossing. While its design is quite striking, it isn’t meant to be seen from afar; it’s dug into the earth and enveloped by trees to make it feel like a secret part of the park.

11. Pedestrian Bridge

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Not exactly your average skybridge, the winning proposal for the Building to Building Pedestrian Bridge Challenge is a shape-shifting helix that responds to the movements of the people walking across it. Made of flexible tensile materials, the bridge shifts as tension is applied to various points.

12. Inflatable, Jumpable Bridge for Paris

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Why just walk across a regular pedestrian bridge when you could bounce across an inflatable one? This concept by Paris-based studio AZC creates an urban playground that aims to bring city dwellers back to “a state of primal happiness, of ancestral times when body and spirit were essentially free.”

13. Garden Bridge Over the Thames by Thomas Heatherwick

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The Thames River would get a new elevated park in the form of a sculptural pedestrian bridge in this concept by Thomas Heatherwick. The design has been selected by Transport for London to become a reality, forming a new public green space for the city of London.

14. Too Crazy for a Bridge Design Competition?

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This concept for a Rotterdam Bridge by Bureau SLA turns a road into scissor-like blades that rise up to allow ships to pass. But according to competition officials, it’s just too crazy. A spokesperson said, “The city’s engineers still cannot believe it. This is too difficult, surely this is madness! The best thing to do and be done with the whole conundrum is to disqualify the entry.”

[Source: Web Urbanist. Edited.]

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