Crossing the Divide: 10 Totally Atypical Bridge Designs

Blade-Like Movable Footbridge

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Five blade-like portions of this movable footbridge at London’s Paddington Basin open and close like a Japanese fan using hydraulic jacks. Envisioned as a kinetic sculpture with a functional purpose, it looks like an ordinary pedestrian crossing until the beams rise into the air on their counterweights.

Meixi Lake Bridge

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Red ribbons undulate above the surface of China’s Meixi Lake in this proposal for a dramatic, sculptural pedestrian bridge by NEXT architects. Designed for a new development revitalizing the area, the 150-meter bridge mimics the nearby hills and provides crucial access points along different harbor planes.

Peace Bridge by Santiago Calatrava

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A helical footbridge crosses the Bow River in Calgary, Canada, offering separate paths for pedestrians and bicyclists. Designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, the 126-meter Peace Bridge features a glass roof with a criss-crossing steel exterior in red and white.

Glazed Glass Bridge by Thomas Heatherwick

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Though plans to actually build it have been shelved for financial reasons, Thomas Heatherwick’s design for a bridge entirely made of glass is worth a look. Envisioned for London’s King’s Cross district, the bridge is formed from over 1,000 sheets of 12mm glass structurally compressed into a sculptural beam form.

Parametric Cloud Bridge

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Taking its form from computational techniques and an image of a cloud stretching across a canyon, ‘Cloudbridge’ by Arturo Tedeschi aims to interpret the natural landscape in an entirely new way. The architects used a specific algorithm to produce a cloud-shaped grid consisting of transparent geometric forms. The internal pedestrian path meanders through the mesh rather than maintaining a straight line.