Constructing a piece of urban infrastructure that otherwise might have not been built for a generation.

Plank by plank, the people of Rotterdam are building a bridge that will give pedestrians safe passage over a tangle of highways and connect two parts of the city that have been separated by cars for years, in the hopes of revitalizing both.

The project is partly inspired by the High Line in New York City. But this isn’t a reclaimed piece of infrastructure, like the former rail line where the High Line was built.

Instead, the Luchtsingel (Dutch for "raised promenade") is being constructed section-by-section out of wood and crowdfunded in part by donors who can buy planks for as little as €25 (about $32), or larger sections for up to €1,250 (about $1,600). Donors’ names appear on the planks, which will eventually number 17,000.

The project is a collaboration between the Rotterdam-based urban design group ZUS (Zones Urbaines Sensibles) and the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR), which this year has the theme of "Making City."

In March, it was announced that the Luchtsingel won Rotterdam’s Stadtsinitiatef, an annual competition in which the city’s residents are asked to vote on a project that will receive city funding and support. The Luchtsingel got 48 percent of the vote.

The campaign to build the Luchtsingel, which began late last year, shows how a good crowdfunding effort can build momentum for a substantial piece of urban infrastructure that otherwise might have not been built for a generation. From the ZUS proposal:

The idea for a raised promenade first surfaced in the Central District master plan drawn up by the city of Rotterdam and Maxwan Architecten. … According to the current plans, construction of this pedestrian bridge is planned in 30 years.

The area cannot wait that long, however. Crowdfunding allows the bridge to be financed in an alternative way, namely directly by the public. This means that construction can start decades before it is planned. The necessary improvement in the quality of the area is therefore no longer fully dependent on policy plans and real estate developments.

In other words, don’t cross that bridge when you come to it. Start building it now so that you can get to the other side.

(h/t @PPS_Placemaking)

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    If You Drive Less Than 10,000 Miles a Year, You Probably Shouldn't Own a Car

    Up to one-quarter of all U.S. drivers might be better off using ride-sharing services instead.

  2. Transportation

    How Seattle Bucked a National Trend and Got More People to Ride the Bus

    Three experts in three very different positions weigh in on their city’s ridership success.

  3. Equity

    The Side Pittsburgh Doesn't Want You to See

    Pittsburgh filmmaker Chris Ivey has spent over twelve years documenting the lives of the people displaced so that the city can achieve its “cool” status.  

  4. Construction workers build affordable housing units.
    Equity

    Why Is 'Affordable' Housing So Expensive to Build?

    As costs keep rising, it’s becoming harder and harder for governments to subsidize projects like they’ve done in the past.

  5. People use leaning bars at a bus stop in Brooklyn in 2016.
    Design

    Cities Take Both Sides in the 'War on Sitting'

    Cities are removing benches in an effort to counter vagrancy and crime—at the same time that they’re adding them to make the public realm more age-friendly.