Senior designer and project leader Johan Büdgen was closely involved in the design and realisation of this eye-catching bicycle bridge. Netherlands based American journalist Diane Daniel asked him all about the design and how it came about…
What was the brief for this bridge and how did you address it?
The municipality of Rijswijk wanted a new bicycle connection across the Rhine-Schie Canal to improve the bicycle network. They had chosen a general area and asked us to further look into the possibilities, taking into account issues such as creating logical and effective road connections. There also was the issue of traffic flow both for vessels and cyclists and pedestrians. If the bridge is too low, cyclists can’t use it a lot of the time because it has to be open for boats. If it’s too high, cyclists might be put off from using it because of the sheer height difference they have to overcome.
In general, the shipping industry prefers a fixed bridge for vessels to easily pass underneath. In this particular situation however, the long ramps needed to accomplish the 7-meter vertical clearance would simply not fit within the surrounding area. The bridge we designed is medium low with a 3-meter clearance, allowing the majority of recreational vessels to pass. Its height means it has to open several times a day however.
You designed a bridge that pivots open, which is not very common. What inspired that choice?
Overall designing and constructing a bridge requires making a lot of choices on many different levels. Technical solutions, design and spatial integration for instance. Here, the main purpose was to have a minimal impact on the surroundings. Therefore a slim bridge was needed. You get a slim bridge by choosing an efficient structural concept and making a well-thought-out design. As an added bonus, a slim and efficient bridge requires significantly less material, which of course positively influences the overall costs.
The idea is you pivot the balanced bridge deck and you can turn it away very easily. It takes way less energy than lifting. The turning part of the deck is 50 meters in length, with a 35-meter cantilever. The deck is connected to the asymmetrically placed pylon with stay cables that keep it in balance when the bridge opens. This made it possible to have an asymmetrical deck that’s extremely slim.