Rafael Viñoly designs a bridge where drivers are supposed to slow down and enjoy the view

circular bridge from above
© Rafael Viñoly

Where I live, bridges are designed to be boring. They often have high concrete balusters on the sides so that unless you are driving in a big SUV you can't see over the side, no matter how glorious the view. They are designed that way; the authorities don't want you looking at the view; they want your eyes on the road.

But not everyone thinks that way. Sometimes architects get hired to work on bridges instead of just engineers and they actually think about the experience of driving, about views and about the significance of the passage. Rafael Viñoly, the architect oft reviled in these pages for his London Walkie Talkie and his New York Pikettyscraper, did something completely different with his circular bridge in southern Uruguay, his home country. He tells Dezeen:

circular bridge from afar© Rafael Viñoly

The concept of the Puente Laguna Garzon was to transform a traditional vehicular crossing into an event that reduces the speed of the cars, to provide an opportunity to enjoy panoramic views to an amazing landscape, and at the same time create a pedestrian place in the centre.

closeup of bridge© Rafael Viñoly

Environmentalists were not amused, and fought the project; it is at the mouth of what is a protected area, and opens more of the coast for development. It is being mostly paid for by a real estate developer, Eduardo Costantini, who is doing a project down the road. Viñoly justifies his work:

I accepted to design the bridge on the condition that Route 10 – a federal highway that has been the main access to the beach resorts along the Uruguayan coast and one of the most destructive planning drivers of the territory – be downgraded to local jurisdiction in order to better control the development process.

bridge from angle© Rafael Viñoly

That makes it all OK, I'm sure. So while it is not exactly TreeHugger correct, it is a nicer way to do a bridge than just a straight fast run. It creates a bit of an amenity for pedestrians and fisher people. And it shows that regular concrete car bridges can be a bit different and a bit less boring.

Found on Inhabitat, which had this video of construction:

Tags: Architects

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