Crossing the Void: Five Projects Driving Innovation in Bridge Design

A poorly designed bridge can ruin a city’s landscape, so finding the balance between aesthetics and efficiency is extremely important.  Here we look at some of the most innovative new bridge crossings that are providing solutions to problems faced in cities around the world, without impacting the surrounding area

Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge

Visp, Switzerland

Architects: Swissrope

Swissrope has created the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge, hanging 84m above the valley floor and spanning half a kilometre between the Swiss ski resorts of Zermatt and Grächen. The Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge was commissioned after a rock avalanche destroyed its predecessor in 2010. The new bridge has been designed to be much taller and longer to avoid a similar situation occurring again. Held up by two 53mm diameter ropes, anchored down at each end of the bridge, walkers are offered an uninterrupted view of the Swiss Alps.

MX3D Bridge

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Architects: Joris Laarman Lab

Dutch technology company MX3D is printing a fully-functional bridge to cross over one of the most famous canals in Amsterdam, Oudezijds Achterburgwal, in order to showcase the potential of its 3D printing capabilities. Created by purpose-built robots and tools designed to handle the manufacturing of complex structures, the MX3D Bridge will be capable of handling heavy footfall throughout the year as tourists flock to the Red Light District. The MX3D bridge, the first of its kind, will undoubtedly be a spectacle in itself.

Image courtesy of Joris Laarman Lab

New Budapest Bridge

Budapest, Hungary

Architects: UNStudio

The New Budapest Bridge will transport pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and commuters back and forth between the areas of Ujbuda and Csepel. The cable-stayed structure will carry four lanes of traffic, two tram lines and an additional four lanes for bikes and pedestrians, and is expected to reduce daily traffic on the city’s other bridges by 40,000 cars. However, UNStudio’s design was selected from 17 entries for offering an “aesthetically pleasing, graceful, slim, well-balanced” proposal. “It was also important that the bridge enable unobstructed views below and above the bridge deck,” explained UNStudio founder Ben Van Berkel. “We wanted it to operate as a clear gateway to the city, like an inviting gesture of hands.”

Image courtesy of UNStudio

Alaberga Bridge

Gipuzkoa, Spain

Architects: VAUMM

Errenteria, Gipuzkoa, sees its forest landscape transform with the seasons, from luscious green to a snowy white. The way through the Forest bridge, designed to connect the town’s lower quarters with its higher reaches, features mirror cladding that ensures that it never looks out of place as it climbs up the Errenteria hillside. Bridges often appear out of place among nature, but this one has been specially designed to solve a problem for the town without chipping away at its natural beauty.

Image courtesy of VAUMM

Ruyi Bridge

Chengdu, China

Architects: ZZHK Architects

Designed to look like traditional Chinese panpipes and inspired by the flow of music, the Ruyi Bridge snakes across the Tianfu 2nd Street intersection. From above, the bridge takes on the appearance of a Yuri, a traditional S-shaped ornament that is seen as a good luck charm in China. With a spiral walkway for pedestrians and separate ramps for bicycles to enter the bridge, the Ruyi provides safe passage between Chengdu’s high-tech zone and the green space of Dayuan Central Park, bringing together the city’s urban and rural landscapes.

Image courtesy of Arch-Exist / ZZHK Architects