Arhitektura d.o.o., in collaboration with PONTING (construction engineers) received second prize for their proposal for a competition sponsored by the city of Maribor in Slovenia within the European Capital of Culture. They managed to put the bridge in one leap across the 120 m wide river.
More images and architect’s description after the break.
The bridge was shaped as a sincere response to the highlighted urbanistic and structural parameters of the design competition task. The result of such an approach is a structure which does not wish to conceal or embellish in any way the form so created. Also, in the detail, the design pursues the same parametric logic. A special detail emerges only where it is indispensable. Greater care has been dedicated to the design of the attachment of the glazed raised railing which, in terms of plane, is made uniform to the exterior plane of the parapet structure.
The proposed footbridge could be included in various concepts of the riverside arrangement, as it has no trendy fashionable label, being a result of engineering aesthetics. In conceiving the structural design that should correspond to the aforementioned premises, we came upon three apparently insurmountable obstacles. On the one hand, the problem of extremely low river banks (asymmetric heights) which will have to enable direct access to the bridge, and on the other hand, the demand for the navigability of the river with a bridge-height clearance of 360 cm. Thirdly, there was a requirement for a max. 5% inclination in view of enabling the crossing for people with reduced mobility. In order to attain these objectives, we sought an innovative structural design which incorporates into the static height of the bridge beam an 80cm-high parapet railing.
At the same time, we gained the missing metres of the path by means of fan-shaped endings on the bridge, as greater lengths at their margins lower the slope. Due to the differing heights of the river banks (approx. 1.5m height difference) the ground plan of the bridge has the shape of an asymmetric ‘hourglass’, which is the result of the location’s varying conditions and gives the bridge a particular character. Considering all the input parameters, the result is seemingly simple, but at the same time, a complex and dynamic spatial form which can be realised only by means of contemporary technology and computer aided design. It is a language of art which indirectly speaks of the time in which the structure was built.
The bridge is thus dematerialised with the lyrically softened lines of the bridge elements and the choice of the light sky-blue colour, which further reduces its tectonic features. Being so dematerialised, it may become, besides its fundamental purpose, also an abstract idea, a symbol and a new icon of the place. Light-coloured bridges make solemn, airy, sunlight and light impression in the space. Owing to the desire to keep intact the city view at night and preserve an unhindered view of the starred sky, the illumination of the bridge deck is foreseen just from the low lights hidden in the parapet railing.
The only exception is the discrete lighting of the lower face of the bridge arch, whose unique shape creates a recognisable image in the city’s night panorama. The pedestrian lane is formed similarly to the deck of a sailing ship, gently curved and protected against the river by railings possessing a touch of the nautical In the bar of the carrying parapet railing, there is a handrail for pedestrians which is discretely lit along the entire length of the bridge. The carrying parapet railing is 80cm high. The railing is raised to the height of 120cm by means of a 40cm high belt of two-layer hardened steel incorporated into the parapet structure. In this way, a sense of greater airiness is achieved, and also small children may enjoy an unhampered view from the bridge.