Zaragoza Bridge Pavilion by Zaha Hadid



Photographer Luke Hayes has sent us these photos of Zaragoza Bridge Pavilion, a pavilion by Zaha Hadid Architects at Zaragoza Expo 2008 that doubles as a pedestrian bridge across the river Ebro in Zaragoza, Spain.


The pavilion, and the expo itself, opened this weekend.


Zaragoza Expo 2008 is dedicated to water and sustainable development.


Here's some info from Zaha Hadid Architects:




PROGRAM: Interactive exhibition area focusing on water sustainability, integrating a pedestrian bridge to perform as gateway for the Zaragoza Expo 2008.


CLIENT: Expoagua Zaragoza 2008

ARCHITECTS: Design Zaha Hadid with Patrik Schumacher
Project Architect: Manuela Gatto
Project team: Fabian Hecker Matthias Baer, Federico Dunkelberg, Maria Jose Mendoza, Jose’ Monfa, Marta Rodriguez, Diego Rosales, Guillermo Ruiz, Lucio Santos, Hala Sheikh, Marcela Spadaro, Anat Stern.


CONSULTANTS: Engineers ARUP Associates
Cost Consultants: ARUP Associates / IDOM
Artists: Golan Levin and Zach Liebermann, Christian Moeller
SIZE: Total Surface 6415 m2
Exhibition Surface 3915 m2
Pedestrian Bridge 2500 m2



The Zaragoza Bridge Pavilion is organized around 4 main objects, or “pods” that perform both as structural elements and as spatial enclosures. The Bridge Pavilion design stems from the detailed examination and research into the potential of a diamond shaped section - which offers both structural and programming properties. As in the case of space-frame structures, a diamond section represents a rational way if distributing forces along a surface.


Underneath the floor plate, a resulting triangular pocket space can be used to run utilities. Floors inside each pod are located at the Expo principal levels: +201.5m (the soffit of the bridge is at +200m, flood protection minimum level of the Ebro River at the location of the Bridge Pavilion) +203m, +206m and +207.5m for the upper level.


The diamond section has also been extruded along a slightly curved path. The extrusion of this rhombus section along different paths has generated the four separate ‘pods’ of the Bridge Pavilion. The stacking and interlocking of these truss elements (the ‘pods’), satisfies two specific criteria: optimizing the structural system, and allowing for a natural differentiation of the interiors, where each pod corresponds to a specific exhibition space.


By intersecting the trusses/pods, they brace each other and loads are distributed across the four trusses instead of a singular main element, resulting in a reduction in size of load-bearing members.


The pods are stacked according to precise criteria - aimed at reducing the section of the bridge as much as possible where the span is longer (approximately 185m from the island in the middle of the river to the right bank), and enlarging it where the span is shorter (85m from the island to the Expo riverbank). One long pod spans from the right riverbank to the island, where the other three are grafted into it, spanning from island to left bank.

This interlocking of the pods has given the design many exciting possibilities. Interiors become complex spaces, where visitors move from pod to pod though small in-between spaces that act as filters - or buffer zones. These zones diffuse the sound and visual experience from one exhibition space to the next, allowing for a clearer understanding of the installation content within each pod. The identity of each pod remains thoroughly readable inside the pavilion, almost performing as a three-dimensional orientation device.

Spatial concern is one of the main drivers of this project. Each zone within the building has its own spatial identity; their nature varies from complete interior spaces focused on the exhibition, to open spaces with strong visual connections to the Ebro river and the Expo.

Natural surfaces have been investigated when designing the Pavilion’s exterior surfaces. Shark scales are fascinating paradigms both for their visual appearance and for their performance. Their pattern can easily wrap around complex curvatures with a simple system of rectilinear ridges. For the Bridge Pavilion, this proves to be functional, visually appealing and economically convenient.

The building’s envelope plays an essential role in defining its relation to the surrounding environment and atmospheric variations. The project has been designed to allow its interior to be thoroughly enlivened by the effect of atmospheric agents, such as the Tramontana wind blowing along the Ebro and, the strength of Zaragoza’s sunshine.

During the Expo, a single weathering layer will enclose the building to protect it from rain. This Shark scale skin will be generated by a complex pattern of simple overlapping
shingles. Some shingles can rotate around a pivot, allowing for temporary opening or closing of part of the façade. The pattern of shingles overlapping each other gives the Bridge Pavilion the widest variety of natural light via several degrees of aperture sizes: from rays piercing through tiny apertures - to wide, full size openings. Large apertures are located on the lower level, in correspondence with either end of the bridge, allowing for the greatest degree of visual contact with the river and the Expo.

Posted on Monday June 16th 2008 at 3:45 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • A

    MANUELA GATTO rocks! congrats! looks great.

  • Runningforasthma

    ‘Most of the latest comments seem to express a rather conservative and narrow-minded discomfort with the hybrid (bridge & building) nature of the project, which instead is its real added value in architectural terms.’

    Look at Hadid’s early work, the tectonics, this project is a reversion back to those theme’s. I agree, it’s a very narrow and conservative view of the blurring of typology, which I agree adds real value to the project. It’s just another part of a the tradition of the promenade in architecture, it could ‘touch’ the water more lightly I think, but it’s still a elegant structure.

  • texxeen

    someone made a relevant arguement pointing out how the view from the bridge obstructs the view of the river, however, what we should aslo keep in mind is that context and concept (product) do not always have to share the same indiffrence. Maybe the idea here is for concept to contrast context. There are several modes of contextualism, Zaha just chooses to take a nondenominational approach on the issue. I mean, she litrally peed in calvaterra’s mouth with this one, and the sad part is that he swallowed it. Sick!

  • Gama

    Zaragoza in summer: up to 42 degrees
    maybe less views on the river, but the blessing of shadow

  • kim

    For all the “postmodern critics” here and there pessimistic whinge:

    This bridge is an update on the theme of habitable bridge like the Ponte Vecchio of Florence, the Rialto Bridge in Venice and the Chateau Chenonceau in the Loire Valley.

    To be more specific from those bridges you would not see the river, but use the bridge as a succession of program along an enclosed path.

    If the shark skin pattern works as it is specified in the text, it would be a breakthrough in this typology, making it the first environmentaly responsive habitable bridge.

    Please guys, read and be respectful about history and other people’s work… before whinging about your good taste and your fetichisms.

  • que fantastico es saber hacer cualquier cosa .gastar millones en algo que particularme para mi , no tiene sentido ,pero como es unas de las vacas sagrada de la prensa .ahi esta ……… parece un muestrario y alarde tecnologico .el resto ya lo dijo moya says …disculpen mi criterio sin criterio

  • thomas

    This is a great CG than an architecture.

  • Gianfranco

    Althought beautiful, it doesn’t fit the surroundings…Unless she is about to built the rest of the city.

  • Gama

    ah, and why is that, Gianfranco, because it doesn’t quite look like a 60s apartment block?

  • S. Captain

    The majority of the -ve comments are from the losers whom I am glad are totally irrelevant in the big scheme of civilizations. Where would we be if CT Scanners, MRI machines, linear accelerators, Cars and airplanes were not invented?
    Get off your … and move on.

  • Paul Trolly…

    This is an exceptionally interesting work of bridge building, (my favorite area of architecture) as it seems to combine modernist building styles and gallery space with what we consider the main purpose of a bridge (gettin places over things!) I recall it was meant to have open sections to expose the chassis but it was impractical. Shame. It would make the thing less monolithic and solid… but its monolithic and solid in a good way! Good work.

  • boloton

    I think some people should be aware that things like this are not what architecture is about. And i like most of Zaha’s work, it’s impresive, but as an architecture is cheap, as an art is pretencious (and this is not always a negative point) and irrelevant, and as technology is a waste of everything… irresponsible IMO.

    Most of people like this, but many people like “American Ido” or “big brother”, for example, and still, it is a fucking shit… sadly, our “culture” is driven by this and at the end nothing mathers anymore.

    It can be nice to debate around this kind of construction, but many people dont seem to understand why this architecture doesn’t acomplish anything…………………… CHEAP!

    PD: IS funny to read those people who seems to be very well documented and then talk so loud… if that was the case then u wouldnt consider this original nor modern, and dont commit the mistake to belive everything u read on the books.

  • Eferis

    I had the chance to visit Zaragoza during the Expo. The city is great! its people are great! and this bridge is great! it is going to become one of the main symbols of the new city! Visit Zaragoza, it is worth it!

  • dpruske

    I just got back from Spain where I had a chance to take a look at this bridge… it is quite sad just sitting there not being used. Seems Zaragoza hasn’t quite figured out how to take advantage of the Expo sites quite yet. If they don’t figure it out soon, it is going to degrade too far.

    The Digital Water Pavillion is going in the same direction.

  • dpruske

    I’d also add that these dynamic photos make the structure look way may more refined than the building really is, at least from the exterior. The interior was closed off.

  • Gi-Eich

    The king of Spain went to visit the bridge and said something along these lines "if you cant see the water, what's the point of having a bridge?"
    Totally agree, the most beautiful part about crossing its not getting there but the joy of the walk instead.

  • Fling, that was brilliant.