West8's newest bridge scheme, in the city of Vlaardingen, near Rotterdam
Even though landscape design experts West8 might be known for their innovative larger scale public spaces and urban planning work, bridge design has also been on their agenda for a long time now; the firm has already designed over 100 bridges in their home country of The Netherlands, and internationally.
Following their latest sculptural bridge work; the 2001-designed Kanaaleiland Bridge in Bruges; and the later 2004-designed Team CS steel pedestrian bridge over the Central Station‘s rail tracks in Rotterdam; their newest bridge scheme on the edge of the city of Vlaardingen, only a few km out of Rotterdam, is nearing completion. The architects begun works on the structure, named rather appropriately The Twist, in 2005 and last week the much-awaited bridge was placed in its final destination, safely anchored on the canal’s two opposite sides.
The visitor enters the bridge through a rectangular frame, while the space evolves dynamically into a double-height diamond-shaped tube, through the bridge’s centre. Constructed largely onsite, prefabricated in a temporary shed, the bridge was made of 400 steel tubes, welded together, galvanized and painted red for maximum visual effect.
The bridge’s strong three-dimensional character not only adds to the design’s expressiveness, but also has functional purposes. Made of square steel elements it twists on a horizontal axis, and the constantly changing sections are the perfect format to absorb vibrations, thus reinforcing the bridge’s movement, when a cyclist crosses.
Located in a rich green part of the city’s suburbs, the Twist is set to surprise and entice its visitors. The inauguration is expected for April 2009, after which, the bridge will serve as a crucial link in the region’s bicycle path.