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He Kōrero Takiwā, He Takiwā Kōrero / Stories Within Spaces, Spaces Defined by Stories: Footbridge Design Concept, Christchurch, New Zealand


Medium: conference paper
Language(s): en 
Conference: Footbridge 2017 Berlin - Tell A Story, 6-8.9.2017, Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin)
Published in:
Year: 2017
DOI: 10.24904/footbridge2017.10467

This design concept originated in response to a government-sponsored design contest for a ‘North Frame Pedestrian Bridge'. The bridge, located along the Ōtākaro / Avon River in Christchurch, New Zealand, is one of a series of projects contributing to post-earthquake recovery for a rebuilding city that seeks to attract people to visit and live, while retaining its unique identity. The contest stipulated that engineers and artists must collaborate to produce the design.

In response, the University of Canterbury established a design team of senior Engineering and Fine Arts students, supervised by three professors. The brief required the team to combine a strong design aesthetic with a tightly constrained and functional built object. This resulted in a unique design, fitting for inclusion in the public art collection, whilst also being capable of moving pedestrians and cyclists safely and effectively over the river.

The design speaks to Christchurch's post-earthquake rebuild on many levels. For example, referencing the pre-colonial river by embodying the Māori eel trap form (the hīnaki), yet, composed of post-colonial modern materials. With its implications of constraint and sustenance, it conceptually encourages the viewer to pause and consider the relationship between the natural, spiritual and human worlds.

The structural system, based on a weathering steel tridimensional “Vierendeel” girder/truss, also responds to the artistic form of a traditional Māori fishing net. Both truss and trap are made of repeated rings, of variable size, and connected by an organic net. As the design is currently under tender, further details of the design concept will be revealed after the bid disclosure.

footbridge conceptual design weathering steel Vierendeel truss

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