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Could This Be the World's Weirdest Pedestrian Bridge?

The designers of this proposed Amsterdam river bridge get a little too whimsical for their own good.


Look at this thing. Is this the weirdest pedestrian bridge you've ever seen?

All signs point to "yes." Created by an obscure group called Massiv for AC-CA's "Iconic Pedestrian Bridge" challenge, the bridge looks like pedestrians would need a map to cross it. And perhaps a fishing pole and gutting knife to forage for food in case they get lost. Here's the view from above:

What motivated the design team to spawn this architectural version of amorous tapeworms? Gezelligheid. That's the impossible-to-translate Dutch term for "convivial, cozy, fun, quaint or nice atmosphere" or maybe "belonging, time spent with loved ones, the fact of seeing a friend after a long absence or general togetherness." Gezelligheid is what Dutch culture is all about, so the designers tried to build a bridge that illustrates the happy concept.

Start with the triple X's standing in the water. These unintentionally pornographic structures are hollowed out to house staircases and different services: one's a bicycle shop, another's a cafe and the third looks to be a visitor-information center. The X's are there as a riff on the St. Andrew's crosses on the Amsterdam flag.

Then there are the entwining pathways. The red one in the above graphic is meant for pedestrians who just want to get across the Amstel river or perhaps bicyclists and physically disabled people; it is gently sloped and kinda-sorta direct. The bendier footbridge is for pedestrians who want an adventure. The two lanes intersect each other in three places, creating a less-obvious reiteration of the XXX theme. They're raised high enough above the river that boats can slip by underneath.

It's easy to see how the bridge design would delight the ordinary city-dweller and intrigue a knot mathematician. But like the team's skyscraping city for parked cars in Hong Kong, it's a little too bold to get built. The winners of the AC-CA contest show a more modest aesthetic. But this team gets points for thinking outside the lemniscate. The same goes for the folks who entered this folding tulip bridge and this piece of advanced alien technology.

Another view:

(Hat tip to the "DIY submissions" area of DesignBoom.)

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.