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. a photo of a full parking lot with a double rainbow over it
    Transportation

    Parking Reform Will Save the City

    Cities that require builders to provide off-street parking trigger more traffic, sprawl, and housing unaffordability. But we can break the vicious cycle.   

  2. a map comparing the sizes of several cities
    Maps

    The Commuting Principle That Shaped Urban History

    From ancient Rome to modern Atlanta, the shape of cities has been defined by the technologies that allow commuters to get to work in about 30 minutes.

  3. Life

    Mapping the Changing Colors of Fall Across the U.S.

    Much of the country won’t see those vibrant oranges and reds until mid-October, which leaves plenty of time for leaf peepers to plan their autumn road trips.

  4. A photo of President Donald Trump boarding Air Force One
    Equity

    Housing Organizations Slam White House Report on Homelessness

    As Trump targets California’s homeless crisis, a report from his Council of Economic Advisors lays out a policing-heavy blueprint for fixing the issue.

  5. a photo of a man at a bus stop in Miami
    Transportation

    Very Bad Bus Signs and How to Make Them Better

    Clear wayfinding displays can help bus riders feel more confident, and give a whole city’s public transportation system an air of greater authority.

×