GKD: A Gleaming Helix in the Centre of Madrid’s Green Lung
One of the largest construction projects in Madrid’s history finally saw its completion this year. Liberated from the noise and smell of the busy city highway, which was completely banished under ground, both banks of the Rio Manzanares were transformed into picturesque parks and promenades. The heart of this green idyll is the Pasarela del Arganzuela - a footbridge designed by France’s star architect Dominique Perrault.
The tapering conical forms on both sides of the bridge, wrapped in stainless steel Escale mesh manufactured by the internationally leading technical weaver GKD - Gebr. Kufferath AG, create a shimmering helix. The metal mesh surrounds the bridge from end to end in a spiral design like a textile ribbon. Rather than a single compact structure, the bridge was designed as a self-supporting steel structure in two sections. At its highest point in the centre the bridge diameter is twelve metres; at both pointed ends only five metres. Pillars at the sides underline the impression of a floating link between the two banks. The two spiral-wrapped sections - 150 and 128 metres long - extend well into the park, meeting in the centre on a platform. It forms the entrance to the park, a visible sign of the merging of the two parts of the inner city.
The realisation of the concept is made possible by the decoratively draped skin of semi-transparent metal mesh, which links inside and outside and permits a natural illumination and airiness of the bridge. The spiral-shaped wrap is designed so that an open section on one side is always opposite a mesh-wrapped section on the other, allowing passers-by a view into the surrounding landscape at all times.
The spectacular wrapping for the Arganzuela Bridge used 4,500 m2of Escale 7 x 1 spiral mesh. The flexible nature of the stainless steel spirals covers three-dimensional structure seamlessly. The conical form of the bridge and the two-dimensional curvature of the mesh that it dictated posed a unique challenge. The solution to this challenge was the production of 64 individually formed triangular mesh sections, each adjusted to fit the sub-structure. Assembling the finished mesh panels also required high precision work due to its size and triangular shape. Despite its filigree structure, the mesh-membrane protects passers-by from the sun - an essential feature in view of Madrid’s sometimes extreme weather conditions. The inherent advantages of the stainless steel material make it easy to maintain and resistant to severe weather or environmental impacts. The resulting virtually unlimited lifespan means little burden on the city’s budget.
The finished bridge owes its charm to the special aesthetic of the spiral mesh, which reinforces the impression of a delicately draped material. On the inside of the bridge the softly dappled light creates a pleasant atmosphere and, in combination with the Spanish sunlight, it reflects the colours of the day and the seasons.
GKD - Gebr. Kufferath AG
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