A Unique Green Pedestrian Bridge For Amsterdam

Not so long ago, we brought you the Turbine Bridge, one of the more imaginative proposals submitted to the the  Amsterdam Iconic Pedestrian Bridge Competition. Now we bring you the Amstel River-Yard Project by Aïe Architectes, part of a Concours AC-CA competition (which comes to us via eVolo).

Like the Turbine Bridge, the Amstel River-Yard Project was designed to function as a pedestrian bridge in Amsterdam, a city that’s no stranger to bridges (currently, it’s home to 1,500 of them). So what does this design bring to the table that all those other bridges do not? Perhaps most notably, the fact that it also functions as a public park and a water filtration system.

Amstel River Yard Project

image via eVolo

Designed to connect opposing banks of the canal fronting the Hermitage Amsterdam Museum, this wide, planted bridge extends greenery to either side of it bicycle and pedestrian path to create a large, open space perfect for lounging or picnicking, or perhaps even a wedding. The canal remains navigable via a tunnel cut perpendicular to the path through the width of the bridge. Beside the boat tunnel, two depressions in the “bank” along the sides of the bridge dip into the water, providing semi- circular, pond-like spot for fishing or perhaps a summertime dip.

Two areas, on opposing corners of the bridge, are raised up to provide usable, interior space. The corner nearest the museum houses a small, green-roofed cafe, an office, bathroom and shower facilities (for swimmers wishing to shower off, we imagine), as well as a concession stand. On the opposite end of the bridge, the raised area houses a small bicycle repair station — a thoughtful touch in a city almost as famous for is cyclists as it is for its windmills. Oh, and did we mention the fact that this design actually also calls for a windmill?

Amstel River Yard

image via eVolo

Along the way, the bridge helps to filter the water in the canal. This is accomplished, first, by creating a large, planted surface area that purifies the rainwater that falls on the bridge before shunting that water into the canal — and second, by allowing the plants along the bank to filter the water in the canal itself as it flows past.

Beyond that, the idea here is to create flexible, adaptable public space for the city, blurring the line between indoor and outdoor public spaces. This is accomplished by creating a new courtyard, in essence for the museum, complete with an eatery, but also by creating spaces that could be used for urban farming, forests, and public events. These events might include open air concerts, or take place within a concert hall constructed on the bridge at a later date.

The bridge was meant to create new ‘fertile ground’ for central Amsterdam — both literally and figuratively –  in an imaginative way. It’s a bridge that, even in a city famous for its bridges, stands out for its integrated focus on both the local ecosystem and quality of life for local residents. More than simply a way to get from Point A to Point B, this bridge constitutes its own destination.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

  • C Pannekoek

    An “interesting” idea, but inappropriate for the city and the historic site. The Amstel is busy, and the narrow tunnel for waterway traffic is insufficient. The Amstel can already be crossed at the beautiful Magere Brug only 50 m away, and also the Kaisersbrug about the same distance to the north. Visually, of course, it is disruptive to the uninterrupted stretch of open water, which is already a natural feature on its own. The kitchy theme-park addition of the windmill requires nl further comment. Meanwhile the bicycle repair shop is unnecessary, as there are already two quite nearby on the Utrechtsedwaarsstraat and on the Kerkstraat.

    This part of the Amstel is a historic focal point and one of the entrances to the city, and would be marred by this childish wasted effort. Amsterdam has numerous appropriately designed city parks, and actual natural landscapes (even with windmills) are easily accessible just outside the city. The attempt to justify the project as “green”, because it filters the rainwater before it lands in the Amstel? Seriously?
    Better try selling this to the bored Parisians who are always up for cheap spectacle, or somewhere in the US or China where they might buy this sort of thing.