2 drawbridges, Assen NL, Project Team: René van Zuuk, Dirk de Groot, Contractor combination: Roelofs and J.C. Krans, Client: Municipality of Assen, Design: 2014
Around 1860, a canal was dug in Assen to create a new connection between the De Vaart road, and the Noord-Willemskanaal. The canal was an important part of the waterway between Assen and Groningen. During the construction, wooden swing bridges were built, but they were replaced by iron drawbridges and eventually by dams, in 1973. With the project ''Blauwe As'', recreational boats will gain access to the canal.
The task was to design two new bridges, one on the Groningenstraat and one on the Nobellaan. Bridges are usually generic designs that can be applied on multiple sites. In the Netherlands, such an example is the typical drawbridge that is widely used. Just like the dutch mill, it is often a bridge that defines a place and serves as a landmark.
Since the two bridges are part of a series, we consider it important that there is a clear relationship between the two. The two sites are not identical, so it is not desirable to make the exact same two bridges, a bond between them though was persistently sought after.
If we compare the sites of both bridges, we can see that they have some distinct differences. The north side of the canal has a lot of greenery and detached houses. The southern side, however, is more urban and dense. The Nobellaan is spacious and has plenty of room, but the Groningerstraat is more compact, having smaller building volumes with a high density.
A crucial point during the design process was the exclusion of a traditional drawbridge as a solution since the distance between the canal and the parallel road to Groningenstraat is too narrow. The swing of the counterweight would pierce the street. To solve this problem, we increased the height of the bridge and bent it towards the water. This allowed us to stay within requirements. Since we wanted a similar solution, the Nobellaan has an indeed similar approach, but this time, the bridge is bent away from the water. This small change creates a subtle difference between the two, because the Groningenstraat has a more compact character, while the Nobellaan is now wider.