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Competition: Footbridge in Gauja National Park, Latvia

An open international contest has been announced for a landmark new pedestrian bridge and entrance to the Gauja National Park in Latvia (Deadline: 11 June)

The contest seeks ambitious proposals for a new footbridge to connect the rural settlement of Sigulda to the 90,000-hectare national park which is separated from the town by Latvia’s busy P8 highway.

The call for concepts is part of the 45th-anniversary celebrations of Gauja National Park which was established in 1973, features more than 500 historic monuments and is more almost 50 per cent forested. The new bridge must be high enough for trucks to pass underneath, strong enough to withstand heavy footfall, provide plenty of signage space and include an information kiosk.

Gauja National Park, Latvia

Gauja National Park, Latvia

Gauja National Park, Latvia

According to the brief: ‘Latvia’s largest national park celebrates its 45th anniversary by tasking architecture enthusiasts with designing an entryway footbridge. Known for the scale of diverse wildlife and varied landscapes within, the Gauja National Park is a popular tourist attraction in one of the greenest and most naturally stunning countries in the world.

‘Participants are tasked with thinking about the buildability of their designs, and ensuring that they correspond with the context of the national park and being welcoming to visitors, while at the same time displaying innovation and the potential to become an internationally recognized landmark.’

With around 54 per cent of its land covered in forest, Latvia is home to a diverse ecosystem, which includes rare black storks, otters, beavers, lynx, and wolves; as well as large numbers of deer, wild boar, elk and red fox. Protected wildlife zones account for approximately a fifth of the country.

Gauja National Park, Latvia

Gauja National Park, Latvia

Gauja National Park, Latvia

Eco-tourism is a growing trend in the region, and Bee Breeders previously launched separate competitions for a guesthouse and spa offering blue-clay treatments in rural western Latvia; an observation tower at the Pape Nature Park; and a meditation retreat in the eastern region of Vidzeme.

Gauja National Park, also located in Latvia’s Vidzeme region, hosts a variety of unique geological formations and habitats for wild animals. Sigulda is the administrative base for the park and also hosts the world’s only public access Luge and Bobsled tracks which opened in 1986.

Proposals for the new bridge connecting Sigulda to the park should be low maintenance; resistant to extreme heat, cold, rain and snow; and be capable of becoming a recognisable landmark for the area.

The overall winner, to be announced on 11 July, will receive $3,000 USD while a second prize of $1,500, third prize of $500, student prize of $500 and green prize of $500 will also be awarded.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for registrations is 26 April and submissions must be completed by 11 June

Fee

Early Bird Registration from 1 November to 14 December: $90 professionals / $70 students
Advance Registration from 15 December to 22 February: $120 professionals / $100 students
Early Bird Registration from 23 February to 26 April: $140 professionals / $120 students

Contact details

Email: hello@beebreeders.com

View the competition website for more information

Castleford Bridge case study: Q&A with Renato Benedetti

The director of Benedetti Architects discusses lessons learned designing a new footbridge in West Yorkshire when practising as McDowell+Benedetti Architects

How did your project create a landmark new pedestrian bridge for visitors to Castleford Bay?

The curving 130m footbridge creates public spaces as phase 1 of our Castleford Bay waterfront regeneration Masterplan. The competition, design and construction process featured in a prominent Channel 4 TV documentary by Kevin McCloud. Its construction was a major event and its image is used for regional publicity and tourism. It’s won 15 international and RIBA national/regional awards and been widely published in the UK and abroad.

Castleford Bridge by McDowell+Benedetti Architects

Castleford Bridge by McDowell+Benedetti Architects

Castleford Bridge by McDowell+Benedetti Architects

Chosen and championed by the community with wide stakeholder consultation, it’s the catalyst refocusing regeneration on the River Aire, Castleford’s under-used natural asset, improving public access, enjoyment and civic pride. We’re also involved with refurbishing the adjacent historic Queen’s Mill into a multi-use gallery/community hub.

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

The curving deck giving views through joints to the weir’s rushing water is supported on delicate inclined columns. For maximum thinness, the structure partly rises above the deck creating four 20m benches so users enjoy panoramic views. The invitingly warm and durable timber deck, benches and handrails are sustainable Cumaru, 2.5 times oak’s density. In complementary contrast, delicate stainless-steel balustrades and bench panels/markers, with hidden lighting, minimise riverscape impact.

Castleford Bridge by McDowell+Benedetti Architects

Castleford Bridge by McDowell+Benedetti Architects

Castleford Bridge by McDowell+Benedetti Architects

The sinuous boards running along the deck and over the benches have unique concealed clamp-fixings ensuring maximum surface without visible connections, while allowing the untreated timber to expand/contract and weather naturally. It’s the first major UK bridge with sustainable provenance fully FSC certified from Brazilian lumberjack, through shipping/handling, to final builder.

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing a new footbridge for the Gauja National Park?

Be sensitive to contextual/environmental issues and boldly innovative about an iconic marker.

Castleford Bridge by McDowell+Benedetti Architects

Castleford Bridge by McDowell+Benedetti Architects

Castleford Bridge by McDowell+Benedetti Architects