AA 421 – Engineering works: What else could a bridge be ?

Trampoline-bridge, by Atelier Zundel Cristea ©DR
Trampoline-bridge, by Atelier Zundel Cristea ©DR

The world is upside down. We convert motorways into pedestrian promenades, and bridges, gardens and tunnels into festive spaces. Infrastructure no longer inspires dreams. Festive displays and greenery are used to pleasantly conceal and make our cities user-friendly. 

I dreamt of becoming a bridge builder or a tunnel driller, or someone who battles to dam a huge river and create a lake, or who starts two railway lines across the French Alps and across the Steppes. Only then would I be on the road to freedom”. This fantasy is signed “Ch. E. Jeanneret, this 23 November 1913.” In his letter sent to Auguste Perret, a young Le Corbusier clearly shows an interest in engineering structures. These are the ones that control nature or divert the use of obstacles nature requires. The all powerfulness of infrastructure is specific to man, who must establish his presence and efficiency. However, could bridges and tunnels be used for something else than just crossing or getting from one place to another? There is a strong need to enjoy life, a view, and nature and this desire is all the more meaningful in a society that consumes to excess. The contemporary city is becoming pedestrian, closing its dual-carriageways and motorways, abandoning them to a few residents or otherwise lots of tourists. Out with the barbaric dictate of speed! The same speed that inspired engineers and architects to design a bridge, as skilfully as possible, to avoid countless twists and turns and detours.

Read Jean-Philippe Hugron’s full article in AA 421, October 2017.

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