Bridges Are for People: Inhabited Bridges Could Help Pay for Infrastructure

Drawing of an inhabitable bridge at night
Artist concept of a inhabitable bridge linking Sainte-Helene Island and Cite du Havre.

Maxim Nasab /

Waterfront property is usually expensive because as the real estate agents note, "they're not making any more of it." Perhaps that is one of the virtues of inhabited bridges; besides being more interesting for pedestrians than your boring old bridge with nothing on it, they create that valuable waterfront property.

Maxim Nasab realized this when he designed his thesis. He points out how banal bridges have become, in an article he writes for Next City:

Bridges have lost their symbolism as agents of connectivity within and between cities. Yes, they do connect points but why do they connect them? For hundreds of years during the Middle Ages some bridges were more than linear conduits; they were connections within the city, part of the urban fabric. What happened to the bridges that gave people such an experience as the inhabitable bridge? A bridge that gave people more than point A and point B but a path connecting these two points, a path that was not uniform and dull, but a path that gave people choices and experiences.
aerial view of bridge
Maxim Nasab  

He has designed one to tie Montréal to the old Expo67 site, where " There is a striking loss of connection between these two points, especially for pedestrians." He notes that it could be a money-maker and an energy-producer.

Although the initial cost of an urbanized bridge would be substantially more than a standard bridge, it would in the end pay for itself and create profit. The bridge was designed to house commercial and retail space, residential and mixed-use housing, and a museum to honor the World Exposition of 1967 which forever changed the face of Montréal . The piers of this bridge also revealed a new idea by housing water turbines within their structure to capture the power of the river and use it to power the various functions of the bridge.
bridge section schematic
Water turbines create power for the inhabits. Maxim Nasab /

Maxim concludes:

The urbanized bridge is the future of our cities. These rediscovered structures hold the potential to create density, infrastructure and revenue for the cities they belong to. So the question is not why should inhabitable bridges be built, but rather “why not?”

Indeed, why not?