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Historically, traditional aqueducts (or water bridges) were channels that unintentionally lost significant amounts of water due to being constructed of porous materials. If you reverse that logic, a water bridge that wants to be porous and intentionally soak up, cleanse and release water becomes an asset rather than disadvantage. Aqua[duct]work becomes a protective lining for the Amstel, simultaneously soaking up canal and storm water through vertical pylons as well as the embankments to cyclically capture and clean water as it moves through the water bridge structure.
The horizontal, structural beams consist of a web flange system that twists in section to allow for varying degrees of cavity space, under the walkable surface, that either defines areas for water distribution or reed wetlands for cleaning the water. The water is either soaked up from the vertical supports of the bridge or pulled in from the periphery and distributed among the pockets within the beams. Each flange is perforated to allow water to slowly release back into the canal aerated and cleansed to create more healthy environments for future aqua life.
Not only is the bridge a liner to the canal but are also lined with the required café and bike rental program. Instead of seeing program as ‘additional’ to the bridge, it becomes integrated. The act of crossing over water becomes a destination rather than just a transitional space. Taking cues from the medieval bridge – the Ponte Vecchio in Florence - we wanted the program to be nestled among the structure of the bridge. But instead of the program on top of the main structural supports, we flipped it upside down and hung program underneath the structural beams. This created two experiences along the water bridge: 1. As one is eating at the café or renting a bike along the water edge, boats are passing under their feet and gives visitors a new viewing experience perpendicular to the canal and 2. The top surface of the bridge folds up twice for programmable space underneath and, in turn, creates two rising seat areas for people to stop and gaze at the surrounding city.
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