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Footbridges and structural design identity

Medium: conference paper
Language(s): en 
Conference: Footbridge 2005 (Second International Congress), Venezia, 06-08 December 2005
Published in:
Year: 2005
Abstract: The question is often raised as to the differences between bridges designed and engineered by engineers versus those designed by architects or artists in collaboration with engineers. Perhaps the end result is not obvious to the public, but the process is diverse. Bridges are unique structures that engineers can design without architects, providing the engineer an opportunity for a design aesthetic that is recognizable and particular as well as an exploration of structural poetics. The design process is complex, and the two roles are often indistinguishable until it comes to the finite element analysis or mathematical formulas for the clearest understanding and resolution of structure, stresses, and abutments by the engineer or that of social and cultural analysis and artistic interpretation of a site by the architect. This paper discusses footbridges designed from both perspectives and as collaborations by engineers such as Chris Wise of Expedition Engineering; Schlaich Bergermann & Partner; Conzett, Bronzini, Gartmann; Atelier One; and Walter Bieler, as well as those by architects and artists such as SHoP, Bernard Tschumi, Thomas Leeser, Lucy Orta, and Wilkinson Eyre. These projects emphasize the integration of a bridge with both the urban and rural landscapes, the bridge as an infrastructure event, the structures as part of an architecture of mobility, and the current potential for a new culture focus on infrastructure design.

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