Bridge, Almere

Bridge for pedestrian and bicycles, Almere NL, Project Team: René van Zuuk, Client: Municipality of Almere, Start of design: 2000-2002, Completion: 2004, Area: 264 m², Height: 12 m, Building costs: €1.800.000

The elegant bridge connects two massive housing blocks, located in the new city center of Almere. The ambition was to create a neutral continuity between two buildings, the Silverline Tower, and René van Zuuk's own, Block 16. The project is designed in such a way that none of the surrounding spatial gestures have been emphasized, allowing the bridge to maintain its own identity.

The structure bridges the waterway between the open Weerwater lake, and a harbor for motorized boats. Therefore, the minimum crossing height is only 2.8 meters. The cable-boasting bridge masts are a reference to the sailing boats, emphasizing the maritime atmosphere of the harbor area. To reinforce its lean appearance, the pedestrian and cyclist traffic flows are separated. After all, two narrow lanes look slimmer in comparison to one wide deck.

The tensegrity-like construction of the bridge, consists of five double beams that support the same number of masts. The beams themselves are suspended to the masts with tension cables. The two fixed supports of the bridge are formed by double slanting columns placed on concrete footings in the water, directly supporting the two extreme beams. The tension cables run under the bridge, where they are attached to the base of the masts, extruding one meter below the deck level. Pre-tensioning the cables gives the bridge greater rigidity.

The eleven-meter high masts are equipped with recessed light fittings, in order to also serve as lighting pylons. Handrails made of steel cables are placed on both sides of the traffic lanes. The cables are made out of anodised aluminium tear plates, so that they blend perfectly with the slim appearance of the bridge. Since the rails are leaned inwards, collisions with the masts or tension wires are avoided.

The overall design is characterized by ambiguity. Observed from the water, the bridge appears symmetric, static and neutral. However, if one moves to the side of the traffic flow, a more dynamic image emerges, because of the transversely leaning masts. The bridge provides the large-scale and ambitious city center with a much desired lightness, resembling an urban hammock.