Francesco Piffari shared with us the design proposal for the Amsterdam Pedestrian Bridge. To design a new iconic bridge, it is essential to reflect on the concept of bridge; what a bridge is in the collective imagination. Considering the bridge in its core meaning, it can be said that the peculiarities of a bridge is to “touch” the ground in just two points, to hover in the air and to be suspended over the obstacle; it is very clear that a bridge establishes a strong relationship with air and water, the two elements it is surrounded with. More images and architect’s description after the break.
In the past a bridge was a connection between two points otherwise hard to reach, like a shortcut. Even today, indeed, it is considered just a link and a passing-by architecture made up of a suspended path. As nominally it is set to be just a slab thick enough to hold the required load, usually pretty thin, the relation between a bridge and the air, generates transparency and lightness. This is why this bridge is made by thin slabs which all spans across the Amstel Canal from one bank to the other; these slabs are overlapping each other to create the spaces required by the brief.
The variable heights of the slabs over the canal make the visitor experiment different relations with water as he proceeds along the bridge: the cafe terrace gives a relaxing break, the two docks, where the slabs dip into the canal, make experience a direct connection and the bicycle repair garage gives the view of a bird flying an inch from the water.
Although the project has several spaces for the ancillary functions, the main purpose of the bridge is preserved; therefore the pedestrian and bicycle flow is never encumbered, indeed the many functions are placed outside of it. Also the banks of the canal are preserved from any buildings which may cause an obstruction to the car, bicycle or pedestrian flow; reason why all the project program is condensed on the bridge within its limits.
The cafe is the biggest space of the project, has a wide terrace which overlook the iconic Stopera and has its own access from the bridge, straight from the bank and even from the canal thanks to its dock. The bicycle repair stations is placed in a side space easy to be reached, just next to the main path and intentionally close to the big pedestrian area in front of the Heritage Museum.
The administration office is set in a more secluded place for a privacy purpose and to obtain a better working environment. Beyond the required program, the project plans next to the cafe on the main path, a small exterior space to be used by the Heritage Museum to promote its main exhibition; and a small boat rental service in the dock next to the administration office.