Humans have walked in all places that their feet have carried them. From mighty mountains and densely forested valleys to sandy deserts and windy plains, our feet have traversed almost all terrains and geographies. Moses even led the nation of Israel on foot through the Red Sea. Thankfully, we are not expected to perform such a supernatural deed anymore.
Modern architectural construction technology has enabled mankind to cross busy highways, rivers, canals, and even seas. With the aim to get people across, architecture has enabled one to take in the scenery and enjoy the journey, on foot.
Here are 20 pedestrian bridges that you need to make sure to include in your next travel list, physically or digitally.
1. Moses Bridge, Netherlands
Around 1446 BC when Moses crossed the Red Sea, it parted and Israelites walked on the sea bed to get across. In 2011 AD, RO&AD Architecten (a firm based in Belgium and Netherlands) constructed a bridge that almost achieved the same feat. It does not cross the moat it has been designed over but passes through it. The architects aimed to blend the pedestrian bridge into the surroundings and create an illusion of invisibility from a distance. When walking, one is able to see the water at shoulder level, creating the illusion that one is walking through water.
2. Butterfly Bridge, Denmark
Comprising three equidistant linear spans constructed out of steel, the name of the pedestrian bridge seems distant from its plan until two of the spans are lifted independently to allow the passage of small boats. Built across the Christianshavns Kanal by Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes in 2015, the bridge was envisioned as a lightweight and dynamic structure. Each of the three bridges meeting at the center has a central girder and a single T-beam spanning the entire length of the main structure. Known for its spectacular size and shape when the two bridges are lifted, the bridge took 3 years to complete.
3. Melkwelkbridge, Netherlands
Netherlands, Canals, and pedestrian bridges. An astonishing 1753 bridges are located in Amsterdam alone! The Melkwelkbridge is located in the western city of Purmerend and is famous for its separation of cyclists and pedestrians. The pedestrian bridge arches over the cyclists’ path, giving it a total height of about 12 meters (close to 40 feet) from the water level giving pedestrians a view over the historical city. The unusually longer path for the lower bridge is to limit the necessary angle of inclination that allows even wheelchairs to traverse it easily. The structure has been created by NEXT Architects.
4. Merchant Square Bridge, United Kingdom
Not all pedestrian bridges are designed necessarily only for crossing and Knight Architects in the United Kingdom asserted just that through the design of the Merchant Square Footbridge. 3 meters wide and spanning a tenth of 20 meters across the Grand Union Canal, the fabricated steel structure is split into 5 individual structures that rise in sequence to form an imagery of a Japanese hand fan. As part of the regeneration program for Merchant Square, the bridge has been designed to make a statement and create focus around the area. Creating a visually and functionally dynamic bridge establishes it as part of our 20 pedestrian bridges you need to see.
5. Ponte Segunda Circular, Portugal
This eye-catching-bright orange-spider-looking pedestrian bridge was built by Maximina Almeida and Telmo Cruz of MXT Studio in 2015 across the Second Circular Road in Lisbon. The arrangement of spans has been influenced by farm paths that at one time were made across the landscape. Constructed in prefabricated concrete and cladded with steel the bridge has become a local landmark and attractive point for tourists and locals alike.
6. The Luchtsingel, Netherlands
Another eye-catching pedestrian bridge built by ZUS in 2015, the Luchtsingel bridge runs for a quarter of a mile (400 meters) or connecting the north of Rotterdam to the center. The inception of the bridge was based on the premise of increasing the economic growth of the surrounding areas as well as add to the city’s urban development. Interestingly a crowd-funding campaign was organized with the names of those who paid being engraved on wooden planks that line the bridge making it the world’s first crowd-funded piece of public infrastructure.
7. Pedro e Inês Footbridge, Portugal
The Pedro e Inês pedestrian bridge, designed by the Balmond Studio and completed in 2007 is an exciting architectural tribute to the ill-fated romantic affair between Kind Pedro I and his lady-in-waiting, Inês. The bridge gives an illusion of being cut halfway, given its design resembling a thunderbolt. The deck is ‘cut’ midway which in turn generates a strong structural tension. Colorful glass panels drape the bridge, shadows of which also color the deck.
8. Nelson Street Cycleway, New Zealand
While the mostly patriarchal architectural community shies away from using pink, Monk Mackenzie Architects did just that. Refurbishing and repurposing a former highway, the architects decked half the pedestrian bridge in a hot pink tone making it stand out in style. With 300 programmable motion sensor lightboxes along the passage, the pedestrians and cyclists are taken aback by the modernist approach taken to build the structure. A recipient of several awards, including finalists at the World Architecture Festival for ‘Infrastructure – Future Projects’ the bridges have become a prominent landmark around town.
9. La Roche-sur-Yon Pedestrian Bridge, France
In 2010, Bernard Tschumi Architects and Hugh Dutton & Associés collaborated to build and construct the La Roche-sur-Yon pedestrian bridge. The tubular bridge is painted in bright red and features a striking structural element in its design and a triangulated mesh draping the exterior. Replacing the standard old railway bridge, the current bridge spans the length (220 feet) of the French TGV tracks below connecting the old and new cities. Developed using 130 tons of steel the bridge celebrates contemporary urban relationships and movement.
10. Millénaire Footbridge, France
Another French pedestrian bridge painted in bright red, the Millénaire bridge is located near a shipping dock and has been built by Explorations Architecture. Completed in 2016, the bridge is a mixed-use development spanning the dock (180 meters) constructed to create a new promenade along the Saint-Denis Canal in northern Paris. A viewing spot or belvedere connects two separate decks which are supported by inclined pinned steel columns resting on a concrete base. The bridge is also easily accessible for wheelchair traffic as per the city council requirements.