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AZPML triumphs in Swiss bridge contest

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Alejandro Zaera-Polo’s practice AZPML has won an international competition for a new £4 million bridge in Bellinzona, Switzerland

The London-based studio defeated four unnamed finalist teams to win the prestigious project backed by the Swiss canton’s municipal goverment.

Dubbed ‘Passerella Ex-Torretta’ – the project will deliver a new pedestrian and cycle crossing over the scenic Ticino River.

The 200 metre-long structure will occupy the site of a former medieval bridge which was replaced in the nineteenth century but later destroyed.

According to a statement from the practice: ‘Our intention has been not only to minimize the visual impact of the bridge in the natural landscape, but also to create a visual resonance with the meanders and the ripples of the moving water surface of the Ticino River.

‘In an effort to capture the dynamic energy unleashed by this beautiful fluvial landscape, the profile of the bridge has been inspired by the organic geometry of the waves created by the forces that sway the natural flow of the river.’

The latest appointment comes five months after AZPML won a design contest for a new affordable housing scheme in the Kirchberg district of Luxembourg City.

Earlier this month AZPML was among a raft of studios defeated by local practice JaJa Architects in an international contest for a new parish church in the South Harbour district of Copenhagen.

Architect’s statement: Passerella Ex-Torretta

Our project aims to respect and enhance the natural beauty of the fluvial context of the Ticino River. Our intention has been not only to minimize the visual impact of the bridge in the natural landscape, but also to create a visual resonance with the meanders and the ripples of the moving water surface of the Ticino River. In an effort to capture the dynamic energy unleashed by this beautiful fluvial landscape, the profile of the bridge has been inspired by the organic geometry of the waves created by the forces that sway the natural flow of the river.

Another important aspect that has been taken into account for the design of the project is that the bridge unfolds over 3 different contextual conditions. One of the central ideas of our project is that these contextual differences can be utilized to enrich the experience of the pedestrian, and his/her relation with the natural landscape.

The first step of the project has been the design of a deck that connects the two preexisting medieval structures (the Torretta tower remains located to the western end of the bridge, and the medieval arcades located towards the Eastern end), while keeping the maximum slope below 6% for a comfortable pedestrian and bicycle access.

The second decision of the project has been the design of the structural supports. These have been positioned aiming to minimize the transfer of loads to the preexisting structures.

The third decision of the project has been the design of the structural geometry of the bridge which reacts to the different experiential requirements. The structure is located below the deck when an intensification of the pedestrian experience and an enhancement in the dialogue with the surrounding context is desired. On the other hand the structure is located on top of the deck when the bridge spans over a more aggressive environment, and the safeguarding and protection of the pedestrians is sought.

Therefore the design of the bridge is defined according to the structural behavior as well as the experience of the pedestrians, alternating along its trajectory between an integrative and protective structural section.

These are the ideas that give origin to the sinusoidal structure, which reduces the visual impact of the bridge in the natural context while conveying an organic form that resonates with the wavy formations of natural systems.

 

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