Trestles Beach footbridge by Dan Brill Architects


Dan Brill Architects of the UK are among 12 international practices shortlisted to design a pedestrian footbridge for Trestles Beach, a surf spot in southern California.

The Safe Trestles design competition, organised by Architecture for Humanity, sought designs that give provide surfers access to the beach from the road on the bluff above, carrying them safely across a railway line while protecting the fragile dunes.

The competition winner will be announced on Friday 7 May. See the shortlist and vote for your favourite here.

Here's some info from Dan Brill Architects:


Winchester-based Dan Brill Architects are the only UK practice to have been shortlisted as one of 12 semi-finalists for the design of a pedestrian footbridge in southern California.

Hosted by Architecture for Humanity, the Safe Trestles international design competition received over 100 entries for the design of a safe and low-impact access route to Trestles Beach, home to one of North America’s most prized surfing spots and the 6.0 Lowers Pro surf event. Every year more than 100,000 people follow informal trails through marshlands and over active train tracks to access the beach, presenting a safety hazard with passing trains and a threat to the marine habitat that is home to a number of endangered animal species and important flora.

In delivering a safe and ADA compliant route between the existing parking lot and beach, Dan Brill Architect’s proposal provides an inspirational and captivating design solution that preserves and enhances the co-existence of a delicate coastal ecology and a recreational surf spot.

Made of welded weathering steel plate, the structure is capable of spanning large distances, thereby requiring minimal foundations within the wetlands and safely clearing prevailing railway easements. The weathered steel plate also provides a resilient and robust finish requiring minimal maintenance in the sea air. In contrast with the steel plate, weathered timber decking provides a warm & tactile surface underfoot.

The proposal provides a new entrance to Trestles Beach from the existing parking lot, and incorporates elements of currently lacking infrastructure: toilets, showers, seating, drinking fountains, recycling bins, and a kiosk or information point.

The bridge varies between 3.5 to 7 metres in width, and incorporates two widened seating areas along its length, positioned to take in dramatic vistas across the wetlands and along the coastline. Educational signage is also incorporated, raising public awareness of the habitat and its endangered species.

The route terminates at Trestles Beach, and incorporates a plinth of informal spectator seating with toilet facilities and bicycle parking below. A lifeguard tower has also been incorporated into the design.

Competition finalists will be announced on Friday, May 7th.

Posted on Wednesday May 5th 2010 at 5:38 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • bolweevil

    Very cool, just sorely, horribly, completely misplaced. Do over! :)

  • C

    I think the design is very ugly, and one is captured in the bridge without escape, a good mugging place. Basically, very oversized and industrial rusty new jetsons wannabe.

  • M&M

    I also entered this competition with a colleague. This competition was very confusing based on the outcome. They wanted a design that would protect the fragile environment that was being damaged by the informal access trails surfers and others were using to get to the beach. They required the design to create a safe crossing over the train tracks and to make the beach accessible to wheelchair users and cyclists. In addition they wanted the public to be educated about the conservation of the site. Based on the selected finalists, all they seemed to want was a simple boardwalk. That’s fair enough but not all of these finalists seem to meet the judges own criteria. Not all seem ADA accessible or ecologically viable. It also seems a waste to run it as an international design competition when most of the more inspiring solutions (you would expect from such a competition) were not selected and they only wanted a simple solution that their parks department could surely have done themselves. I’m fine with not being selected, I just want the best for Trestles and there were some amazing designs out there that were sadly overlooked! Check them out…..

    Ecologically speaking, I can confidently say that leaving Trestles as it is and failing to put in a formal solution is not an option if so many people wish to keep accessing Trestles. I appreciate that locals wish to keep it as it is but that is not fair to future generations who may never know Trestles as it is now. It is not just a recreational site, it has great biological value which must be protected for now and the future. BIG PICTURE – there would be no surfing if we damage our environment so badly that the rare biodiversity of this site is lost and we compromise the function of this natural setting which produces vital ecological products such as oxygen – it is hard to surf without oxygen I presume….

    Ultimately if our environment suffers we do to

  • rEnji

    I agree to M&M’s comment totally. I can’t comprehend how the judges would fall for just pretty graphic images and straight lines cutting across the supposed-to-be preserved pristine landscape region. I remember reading through the brief of the design competition that stressed a lot on a low-key innovative approach that would educate future generations about the history of Trestles and save it from ecological degradation due to the increasing and unmonitored human footprint. However, sad for Trestles, more of human footprint is what is coming its way, especially when such bold designs with no adherence to any of the listed requirements have been selected as finalists. I am with the sentiments of the surfers who feel it’s rather best to leave Trestles the way it is now than build something so gigantic and endanger its ecosystem.

  • I think it looks “Brilliant” now give some outside structure and let the outer shell be 100% overgrown and fill the walking path with sand …to give the visitor an early feel of the beach ahead. Put a steel comb on a telescopic transversal axe that can be run down and up once a week like a cat litter cleaner..of the sand on the pathway…

  • Pete

    I am from the UK and visited Trestles a few weeks back on a trip from LA down to San Diego While there I remember this hideous EGO trip of a design… so thought I would have another look.

    It completely misses the point!! Its horrendous, and clearly no one visited the site. If they have then I am even more distressed by the design response!!! I showed it to two american friends who live in San Onofre… both surfers, who were lets just say, more than a little distressed!

  • Andy Gruchy

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Trestles is a natural beach. I know there a need to have a safe passage over the tracks. but make it simple, and natural. This looks like they will be selling Hot Dog on a stick, holding art shows, I agree with James, its out of place and really offensive to the natural landscape.

  • Andrew Gruchy

    One more thing. It should be a dirt path and a simple bridge. People make the long walk for a reason, then appreciate what they reach and respect the beach a. If it's easy to reach, it will be lost. It's like putting an elevator up to the top of half dome.

  • sandy

    The Juxtaposition between man made objects and nature has historically created some incredible cultural Icons that I personal wouldn't want to live in a world without, the Pryamids, Machu Picchu, the Golden Gate Bridge, Sydney Opera house etc.

    So don't be scared America embracer culture……….

  • Ty Jensen

    The photos of the bridge imaged over the landscape dont really show how construction (moving vehicles down onto the beach, etc) would effect the land around the bridge… I think it is unneeded and the architecture looks too modern, instead of reflecting the simple beach bum, care free, surfer atmosphere around Trestles.

  • moon

    the scale is big, but so is the dramatic effect of it.
    it takes you eyes of the carpark on top. a beautiful way to walk down to the beach.