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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Iconic Pedestrian Bridge in Amsterdam, Netherlands by Francesco Piffari

October 7th, 2012 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Francesco Piffari


What is a bridge in the collective imagination? How to obtain livable spaces from a passing-by architecture? How to push the design to its boundaries and at the same time satisfy the requests for traffic flows, wheelchair access, integration in the urban context, sustainability looking, clarity and comprehensibility of the program?

Image Courtesy Francesco Piffari

  • Architects: Francesco Piffari
  • Project: Iconic Pedestrian Bridge
  • Location:  Amstel 51, Amsterdam, Netherlands (in front of Hermitage Amsterdam Museum)
  • Type: One stage international idea competition
  • Hosted by: [AC-CA] Architectural Competition
  • Software used: Rhino, vRay for Rhino, Photoshop and Autocad
  • Program:

    • Pedestrian Bridge: on the central axis of the museum, 90 m long, 4m wide minimum
    • Cafe: 100 sqm with enough space for 20 tables together with a small area for snack
    • Bicycle Repair: 50 sqm with two repair stations
    • Services: 20 sqm for 4 toilets cubicles; 30 sqm for office, changing room, storage; 30 bike racks
    • TOTAL: 200 sqm
  • Mission:Design an Iconic Pedestrin Bridge in the heart of Amsterdam which could:
    • Encourage and reward design excellence between architecture and engineering.
    • Research, respond to and highlight the unique aspects of designing an original footbridge.
    • To generate the discussion of ideas regarding the functionality of bridges in relation with art and sculpture.
    • Encourage the employment of sustainable design in all aspects of the proposal.

Image Courtesy Francesco Piffari

Eventually what sort of relationship it generates with the surrounding elements?

This project solves these issues with simple and yet innovative solutions and enriches the discussion with further additions to given program.

Image Courtesy Francesco Piffari


To design a new iconic bridge, it is essential to reflect on the concept of bridge; what a bridge is in the collective imagination.

In the past a bridge was a connection between 2 points otherwise hard to reach, like a shortcut. Even today, indeed, it is considered just a link and a passing-by architecture made up of a suspended path.

Image Courtesy Francesco Piffari

Considering the bridge in its core meaning, it can be said that the peculiarities of a bridge is to “touch” the ground in just 2 points, to hover in the air and to be suspended over the obstacle; it is very clear that a bridge establishes a strong relationship with air and water, the two elements it is surrounded with.

Image Courtesy Francesco Piffari


As nominally it is set to be just a slab thick enough to hold the required load, usually pretty thin, the relation between a bridge and the air, generates transparency and lightness. This is why this bridge is made by thin slabs which all spans across the Amstel Canal from one bank to the other; these slabs are overlapping each other to create the spaces required by the brief.

Image Courtesy Francesco Piffari


The variable heights of the slabs over the canal make the visitor experiment different relations with water as he proceeds along the bridge: the cafe terrace gives a relaxing break, the two docks, where the slabs dip into the canal, make experience a direct connection and the bicycle repair garage gives the view of a bird flying an inch from the water.

Image Courtesy Francesco Piffari


Although the project has several spaces for the ancillary functions, the main purpose of the bridge is preserved; therefore the pedestrian and bicycle flow is never encumbered, indeed the many functions are placed outside of it. Also the banks of the canal are preserved from any buildings which may cause an obstruction to the car, bicycle or pedestrian flow; reason why all the project program is condensed on the bridge within its limits.

Image Courtesy Francesco Piffari

The cafe is the biggest space of the project, has a wide terrace which overlook the iconic Stopera and has its own access from the bridge, straight from the bank and even from the canal thanks to its dock.

The bicycle repair stations is placed in a side space easy to be reached, just next to the main path and intentionally close to the big pedestrian area in front of the Heritage Museum.

Image Courtesy Francesco Piffari

The administration office is set in a more secluded place for a privacy purpose and to obtain a better working environment.

Beyond the required program, the project plans next to the cafe on the main path, a small exterior space to be used by the Heritage Museum to promote its main exhibition; and a small boat rental service in the dock next to the administration office.

Image Courtesy Francesco Piffari

Image Courtesy Francesco Piffari

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Categories: Autocad, Bridge, Photoshop, Rhino, V-Ray

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