What are some of the bridge’s interesting characteristics?
At a little over 100 meters, this was one of the longest spans we’ve designed so far, so that was interesting. We did part of the engineering ourselves in close collaboration with the structural engineer and we managed to make the bridge as thin and light in material as possible. We chose an arch because it was a typical bridge type for this canal, but we also wanted to show clearly that it was a bridge for cyclists and not for car traffic.
The main part of the bridge is very subtle, so there are no striking details that stand out. But that also was the goal – to have a limited visual intrusion on the green landscape. We wanted the bridge to look like it was a piece of engineering art. I think we definitely succeeded. For a large part that is due to the fact that we applied the structural principle of a network arch bridge, which is very efficient and requires less steel than the more commonly used traditional arch bridge.
Another thing I think worked out really well is that we wanted to create one continuous ribbon visually joining the ramps and the bridge. We used a concrete path for both so the bridge as a whole would feel like one single connection. Many people might not see that, but it’s one of the things I’m really proud we could achieve.
It’s a beautiful area. Are there places on the bridge to view the scenery?
Overall, the width of the bridge deck allows for cyclists to stop and admire the view and although the ramps don’t particularly allow people to stop mid-way they do offer great views whilst cycling up or down.
We added staircases on each side of the bridge for pedestrians. They are located and designed in such a way that they offer good views of the surrounding landscape. In addition, both staircases have a viewing platform.
Adding the staircases allows pedestrians to more quickly access the bridge and increases safety as pedestrians are separated from cyclists. Together with the great views that’s a win-win.
This project also included a corridor for wildlife. Did that affect your design, and how?
Not so much, no. The wildlife connection was designed by landscape architect Bureau Waardenburg and involves things such as easy access points for animals on either side of the canal and vegetation chosen specially to attract more wildlife and increase biodiversity.
After the project was completed, what was the local community’s reaction?
When the main span was put in place in the spring of 2018, it was a bigger event than I thought it would be. Of course, the clients and contractor were there, but I was surprised to see so many residents. What was even better, they were happy. The grand opening in September was a really big event. People were excited and enthusiastic, including those who had originally been sceptical. We certainly achieved the main project goal – to maximize support.
Have you used the bridge yourself?
I did cycle over it one day in the fall. It was great to experience the design elements and how they really do work. I was surprised to see how many people were using it, not only cyclists but also pedestrians. That made me feel really proud indeed.