DFA | Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes

DFA | Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes

Montreuil, FR | Wien, AT


Fix and movable footbridges

The nature reserve situated next to Willebroek with its marshlands, its river banks and the Zennegat sluice at the confluence of rivers Senne and Dyle, is a perfect destination for bike tourism.

The two footbridges – one fix and the other one movable – complete the existing paths and allow the entire crossing of this precious area of relax and leisure activities.

The major issue of the project lies in the integration of the two footbridges into the exceptional landscape. The bridges, open for pedestrians and cyclists, are characterized by a structural fineness and elegance. The transparent appearance is achieved by a cautious selection of the materials which insure a soft embedding into the river bed and the landscape around the canal.

The two bridges are situated perpendicular to the river banks and the canal and guarantee the continuity with the cycle paths. The continuity is strengthened by the handrails which are fabricated the same way on each bridge.  

The structure of the two bridges is made out of painted steel, while the oak deck consists of panels of 100mm x 50mm thickness. The handrail is made out of wood, fixed on a double plate painted column and completed with a net in stainless steel. All structural elements are under the deck in order to allow direct views on the surrounding landscape.

The bridge is as flat lattice beams construction with statically optimized elements that allow a great transparency. The arch of the lower chord underlines the geometry of the beams. This inclined arch form strengthens the symbolism of the crossing and underlines the dynamic character of the bridge. The bridge seems to spread out between the two banks and its connection with the lateral supporting elements is hidden by the surrounding vegetation.

The important issue concerning the movable bridge is its relationship with the sluice. The decision was to minimalize the impact of the new footbridge during its closed configuration; this is possible thanks to the perfectly horizontal deck which is linked to the edge level of the canal and lateral paths that connect the whole to the river banks.

The movable bridge allows the passage of boats without limitation of their height. A hydraulic lifting cylinder is fixed under the horizontal deck and allows the opening of the deck. The flexible lend part is drawn/pulled towards the opposite river bank, laterally disposed pivot arms accompany the opening. They are situated in height of the railing and the exceptional/unusual folding mechanism allows integrating the mechanical parts of the bridge.

Project completed : 2012

Length : 33 m and 67 m

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Status: Built
Location: Willebroek, BE
Firm Role: Head Designer