There is no shortage of breath-taking bridges around the globe: London Tower Bridge, Pont du Gard, Millau Viaduct, the Golden Gate Bridge to name but a few. But these bridges and almost every other bridge on the planet were built for one reason and one reason only.
To get people or vehicles across land or water. This is the function of a bridge, and up until now they have been designed and built to fulfil this function only. However, looking forward to the future, it seems that bridges look set to get a serious rethink as to how they function and revolve around our daily lives.
Have you ever seen a bridge with cafes, gardens, waterfalls and public spaces? What about amphitheatres and art galleries and installations? Well in the not too distant future this could be the reality we face and not just a fantasy.
The 11th Street Bridge Park in Washington DC, expected to open this year aims to integrate the neighbourhood and join together communities in the area. It will not have any car crossing or vehicular transport at all. As the name suggests, it will be a community park, aiming to generate inspiration and connect people together.
This has been called no easy task, as building a bridge is already an incredible feat of engineering and planning. A bridge takes vast structural knowledge and applied knowledge of physics and stress calculations that have absolutely no room for error. To then add a lot more elements onto this already complicated design makes building these multi-purpose bridges extremely challenging.
It is recognised that by integrating community and other ideas that bring people together, these bridges will hopefully pave the way for a new way of thinking when it comes to other aspects of our cities and infrastructure.