Dejima Footbridge, Making a Connection in the 400 Years' History

A Study on Cultural Meaning of Building Contemporary Bridge


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/footbridge2017.10506
Abstract: Dejima is an artificial island built in 1636. During the isolation policy of the Edo Period, Dejima was one of the few places which connected Japan to the outside world. A single small masonry bridge was the only connection between the mainland and Dejima. Later in the Meiji Period, river conservation work widened the river from 5 meters to 30 meters and the old Dejima bridge was demolished. On the 27th February 2017, with great public interest, a modern footbridge was erected on the site of the original bridge and the link was re-­ established after 130 years of absence. The new Dejima Footbridge is a 38.5 meter long steel plate girder bridge with a timber deck. Its restrained design is influenced by its material context and the intention to build modestly in this place of historical importance. Public works tend to receive minor attention and sometimes even negative responses from the public. We designed this bridge with respect for its context and carefully planned the process of design and construction to take into account the history of Dejima and involve the local community. Over the many stages of the process, the project came to attract the attention and sympathy of the public. Finally, on the weekday morning on which it took place, more than 5000 people attended to watch the mounting of the bridge. Designing is a partly a process of communication. This article describes the importance of gentle gestures in historical contexts and a communication process for the successful integration of modern constructions in sensitive situations.
Keywords: aesthetics, footbridge, historical, communication, Planning, structural concepts, counter-weight, participation, Dejima, public relation

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