DFA | Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes

DFA | Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes

Montreuil, FR | Wien, AT


Three-country bridge

The three-country bridge between France and Germany crosses the Rhine River and has an asymmetrical cross section. Thereby two principals underlie the design. First of all the bridge is an arch bridge with a span of 229,4 m, which is a world record for a pedestrian arch bridge. Engineers have specific formulas for defining the type of bridge in relation to its span. Thereby the engineer's reflex here was to build a suspension bridge. I was stuck by the extremely strong symbolism of the very important gesture of spanning between France and German, which was conceived as drawing a bow between the two countries. Developing this sense as the intrinsic motivation behind the structure of the bridge, I thought that there might also be advantages, not just disadvantages, of spanning rather than suspension. This turned out the be the case the completed bridge was floated in one piece to the site. This would not have been possible with a suspension bridge whose assemblage in situ would also have been much more costly. The second significant feature ot this bridge is the manner in which the genius loci, the spirit of the river landscape and the elements of the particular on-site situation were integrated into the design. This was mainly achieved in one decision to position the anchorage points of the bridge at the former departure points of a ferryboat that formerly travelled across the Rhine between the two shores. This served to integrate a pre-existing line-of-sight extending from the urban fabric of the two border cities via two main streets directly opposite each other. Putting the bridge deck at a high level, as it generally done, would have created a barrier in between the line-of-sight separating instead of connecting the two countries. This problem as well as a desire to integrate the pre-existing line-of-sight of the two main streets, led to my decision to not put the arch bridge exactly on axis, but rather to shift it slightly to one side. Further the inclined south arch leans against the north arch in a way that opens up the space and makes it possible to maintain eye contact from one riverside to the other. Although suggested by engineers, in my opinion a symmetrical bridge would not have been suitable here.

Project completed : 2007

Total length : 346 m / clear span : 230 m

Cost : 8.9 M Euros

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Status: Built
Location: Weil am Rhein, DE
Firm Role: Head Designer