Elevating the discourse: Pedestrian Bridges pt. 1

When we lived in Freiburg, there was a floating bridge we would walk almost daily. Presently, my employer’s office overlooks the Lake Washington Ship Canal, and we live a few blocks north of the Fremont and George Washington Memorial bridges – it’s practically impossible to move in Seattle and not cross a bridge. During the summer, we’ll often have lunch and watch boats motoring under the adjacent drawbridge Bascule bridge. So with Build’s Dynamic Bridges post still seared into our brains, Brute Force lists some of our favorite footbridges…  

T. Evans Wyckoff Memorial Bridge



architect: SRG Partnership 

engineer: Magnusson Klemencic Associates 

location: Seattle (US) 

length: 103,5m (340′) 

While we have several auto-centric bridges in Seattle, there really aren’t too many decent pedestrian bridges. The Wyckoff may be one of the more interesting examples in Seattle, and it seems to have been spawned with a plethora of double helix-esque bridges built in the last 5 years. Utilizing nearly 2 miles of 5″ steel tubing, the Wyckoff seems almost out of place in the industrial south end of Seattle. The bridge was fabricated in Tacoma, shipped up the Puget Sound and Duwamish before finally being craned into place. According to SRG, the bridge was inspired by contrails. The bridge serves as a protected overpass from the Museum of Flight to the Airpark and overflow parking. It’s a little unfortunate the tubes don’t encompass the entire section, but that may just be the purists in us. 

Paper Bridge, 2007



architect: Shigeru Ban Architects 

location: Remoulin (FR) 

This temporary bridge was built by architecture students for a 6 week lifespan in 2007. The juxtaposition with the massive Pont du Gard provides for a pretty dramatic effect. The bridge is built with 281 4″ diameter paper tubes and the stairs are recycled paper and plastic. The resourcefulness and research efforts of Ban are pretty incredible, and we’ve appreciated his work since the early days of school. 

Querini Stampalia ponte, 1963

foto: Frederika Eilers

foto: evan chakroff

foto: o_d_b

architect: Carlo Scarpa 

location: Venezia (IT) 

span: 6m (20′) 

Scarpa’s details are incredible, and even this small insertion is a testament to this. The bridge is eccentric as the banks are at differing levels, yet it spans a functioning canal. The bridge is steel with wooden steps. Accents on the handrails are brass.   

West India Quay Bridge, 1996



architect: Future Systems 

structural engineer: Anthony Hunt Associates 

location: London (UK) 

span: 80m (262′) 

The use of pontoons allowed this steel bridge to be prefabricated quickly, economically and in a controlled environment. Once finished, it was trucked to a barge, floated into position and tied down. The bridge’s horizontality is a good foil to the verticality of Canary Wharf and the narrowing to midspan provides a really nice touch. The color and lighting concepts are impressive, especially by night, and we really appreciate the inferred references (water striders, the pontoon bridges of World War II, etc). Ah, yes – another incredible project, ruined by a competition. 

Royal Ballet School: Bridge of Aspiration, 2002

foto: Squirmelia

foto: joevare

foto: joevare

architect: Wilkinson Eyre 

structural engineer: Flint & Neill Partnership 

location: London (UK) 

span: 9,5m (31′) 

This stunning project connects the Royal Ballet School to the Royal Opera House, which was complicated by openings misaligned in both x and y axes. By rotating 23 diaphragms through 90 degrees, an elegant twisting results. This bridge was also prefabricated off site and lifted into place. Unsurprisingly, this footbridge was the result of a competition – and also happens to be one of our favorites. 

Further Reading
  • Flint Neill description of the Bridge of aspirations (PDF)

3 responses to “Elevating the discourse: Pedestrian Bridges pt. 1

  1. Wow – great collection. Querini Stampalia has got to be one of my faves. As the story goes – you can’t add any new construction in Venice, but if it’s already there, you can’t remove it. So Scarpa and his students built it off site and installed the bridge in the middle of the night and it’s been there ever since. Not sure if the story is true but love it anyway.

  2. namhenderson

    Holy shit! That Wilkinson Eyre bridge is a beaut.

  3. Nice list… it’s interesting to see the vastly different approaches to one simple idea. Scarpa’s Querini Stampalia is stunning in its economic simplicity. I also like the dramatic views from the ballet school bridge, although its form feels dangerously trendy.