AR_EA 2006 Prize Winner: the ingenious use of metal tubes has created an unexpected jewel
Originally published in AR December 2006, this piece was republished online in August 2016
The extraordinary simplicity of this bridge earmarked it for further consideration from the beginning of the judging process; in the event the design went all the way to become one of this year’s winners. It would have been hard to predict, from images alone, that the location project is in Texas, generally thought of as a hot, dry and taciturn sort of place. But here we are given a delightful, contextual and curiously natural structure.
The bridge looks enjoyably risky to use, and is in fact not for public consumption - it links the main house on the estate to a guest house. The 100ft arch structure has a main span of 80ft, achieved through the ‘nesting’ of five 5 inch diameter pipes that diverge from the spring point of the main span and the abutments. The pipes support half-inch diameter bars which act as both decking and guardrail; their irregular length and spacing are intended to respond to the reeds on the site.
The handrail comprises a rope secured with steel wire rings to a horizontal tube welded to the vertical bars, while the abutments are made from local stone slabs, layered vertically to create ramped access; deep raked joints recreate the rhythm of the deck and railings. The bars and reeds intertwine at the abutments, making it appear that structure and nature are merging into one. This is a light-maintenance bridge, whose man-made elements have been translated by architecture into something as beautiful as it is unexpected.
Pedestrian Bridge, Lake Austin, Texas, USA
Architect: Miro Rivera Architects
Structural engineer: Chuck Naive
Photographs: Paul Finkel