Images credit Solar Park South Competition
It is almost a given in design competitions that the best project comes second; the precedent was set in 1922 with the Chicago Tribune Tower competition, where the neo-gothic won beat second prize winner Eliel Saarinen. There are exceptions; Toronto's City Hall by Viljo Revell, and, I think, PR+OFF's inhabited bridge for the Italian Solar Park South Competition.
The challenge in the competition was to design an alternate use for gorgeous concrete bridges built in the sixties by some of the world best engineers, like Pier Luigi Nervi; they are being replaced by new shorter routes that are mainly in tunnels:
Rather than completely demolishing the old route, with its extraordinary reinforced concrete viaducts, now fully integrated within the landscape and the collective imagination, the reuse and re- development of certain by-passed sections is proposed as a means of boosting the production of renewable energy; experimenting with new eco-friendly technologies; favouring connections between villages and access to the valuable crops on mountain crests; and, finally, developing new forms of environmental and land art capable of stimulating responsible tourism.
The winners describe their proposal:
This contemporary archaeology (the bridge over the bridge) results in a process where urban falls meet the climbing nature. The vertical privacy of the inhabited piles supports the horizontal sociability of the public equipped decks, while providing a unique view for each one, at every level. The combination between the infrastructure and the environment is efficient enough to establish a new responsible high quality way of living.
The second prize by COFFICE is pretty cool and is getting all the press, but I think is a bit of a one-hit wonder. They write:
The hybrid system proposed (combining solar and wind power) allows for a continuous production of Energy. The project is based on the idea of utilizing the space between the pillars of the existing viaducts to house a system of wind-powered turbines which will be integrated into the structure. This ensures contained land use and therefore a reduced impact on both landscape and environment in addition to re-designing the visual profile of the viaduct.
click images to enlarge
Daniel at Inhabitat loved the third prize winner, and there is lots to love; it is all about green education. But I think that it wrecks the bridge with the green curtain leaf shelter acting as a wall.