Architects in the Netherlands have designed a bridge which can flood and not get damaged. The bridge is built in the city of Nijmegen. The city has seen many floodings for years. The damage caused by the floods has been overcome in series. However, the old infrastructure has faced a lot of damage due to the floods and has started to crack. This is putting all of the city at risk. The city officials decided that instead of fighting the nature, they will work with it to create a solution. At last, they designed a bridge which can adapt to the rising sea levels.
The bridge is able to withstand partial flooding after a heavy rainfall without damaging its infrastructure. The design has enabled the pedestrians to cross the river during heavy flooding by using a series of stepping stones. Next Architects and H+N+S Landscape Architects are behind to create the Zalige bridge. This is one of its own kind of an infrastructure in the Netherlands. The design team said, “As a crest above the river, the bridge emphasizes the dynamic character of water by letting people see and experience the changing river landscape.”
It was a part of the Room for the River Waal which is a nationwide project by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure. The bridge opens up ways for visitors to the park to understand the flood patterns of the river and experience the spatial quality of the water. Michel Schreinemachers said, “All designs by Next Architects start from the unique characteristics of a place. This bridge is built on the floodplains; this fact was used to design a bridge that strongly connects and interacts with the river landscape; as a path over the water.”
It was built in 2016 but was put to its first test in 2018 when the flood water rose to its highest level in past 15 years. The flood water became an attraction for the locals who went to the park to watch the bridge slowly flood. During low water time, the stepping stones act as benches or lookout points. As soon as the water rises, they become the only way to cross the river. When the success of the bridge became evident in January 2018, it became a pinup for other infrastructure projects which are in close contact with the flooded areas.
Henk Ovink, the government-appointed special envoy for international water affairs said, “Awareness of water issues is still low, unfortunately. This is why we have to tell more stories to make people understand how important the water issue is.” City planners and architects are now looking at new ways to design cities since the rising sea levels are a threat to many low lying areas.