OMA proposes bridge with pedestrian
boulevard for Bordeaux

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OMA bridge with pedestrian boulevard in final round of Bordeaux competition

News: a proposal by Rem Koolhaas' firm OMA for a bridge that could accommodate different types of traffic as well as pedestrians and events has been selected by local authorities in Bordeaux, France, as one of two final competing designs.

The proposed design aims to "rethink the civic function and symbolism of a twenty-first century bridge" by creating a platform traversing the river Garonne that could be used by cars, trams, buses, bicycles and pedestrians.

OMA bridge with pedestrian boulevard in final round of Bordeaux competition

A wide boulevard with a gentle gradient would make the bridge easy to walk across and allow it to be used to host events.

OMA project leader Clement Blanchet said the studio wanted to "provide the simplest expression – the least technical, least lyrical, an almost primitive structural solution. This simplicity allowed us to create a generous platform for pedestrians and public programs, as well as flexibility in accommodating the future needs of various types of traffic."

OMA bridge with pedestrian boulevard in final round of Bordeaux competition

Either OMA or French firm Dietmar Feichtinger will be awarded the project in December this year, with completion scheduled for 2018.

Yesterday, Thomas Heatherwick unveiled a design for a pedestrian bridge housing a garden to span the River Thames in London.

OMA bridge with pedestrian boulevard in final round of Bordeaux competition

OMA is up against Danish firm BIG in a competition to redevelop the site of a convention centre in Miami.

In a movie filmed in Milan as part of our Dezeen and MINI World Tour, journalist Justin McGuirk described OMA's Tools for Life collection of furniture as a nostalgic statement about the decline of industry in the city.

See all stories about OMA »
See all stories about bridges »

Images copyright OMA unless otherwise stated.

Here's some more information from OMA:


OMA leads the final round for Pont Jean-Jacques Bosc international competition in Bordeaux

OMA's design for a new bridge across the river Garonne in Bordeaux has been selected as one of two final competing projects by the city authorities. OMA's stripped-down design for the Pont Jean-Jacques Bosc attempts to rethink the civic function and symbolism of a 21st century bridge.

OMA bridge with pedestrian boulevard in final round of Bordeaux competition

Clement Blanchet, leading the project for OMA with Rem Koolhaas said: "The bridge itself is not the 'event' in the city, but a platform that can accommodate all the events of the city. We wanted to provide the simplest expression – the least technical, least lyrical, an almost primitive structural solution. This simplicity allowed us to create a generous platform for pedestrians and public programs, as well as flexibility in accommodating the future needs of various types of traffic."

Vincent Feltesse, president of Urban Community of Bordeaux made the decision with the deliberation of a jury of 40 people, announcing that the municipality wanted something "bold."

OMA bridge with pedestrian boulevard in final round of Bordeaux competition
Image copyright Frans Parthesius

Beyond traditional fascinations with style and technical performance, OMA tried to design a 21st century bridge that exploits state-of-the-art techniques in order to create a contemporary boulevard. A platform 44 metres wide and 545 metres long is stretched beyond the water on either side, creating a seamless connection with the land. The bridge slopes gently, allowing an easy promenade while still giving necessary clearance for boats underneath. Each type of traffic – cars, RBD (tram/bus), bicycles – has its own lane, and is designed to meet changing vehicular needs. By far the largest strip is devoted to pedestrians.

The bridge is designed to cohere with the adjacent St. John Belcier urban redevelopment project. It also attempts to unify the different conditions of the two banks of the Garonne: from the Right Bank, strictly aligned on a poplar-lined meadow, to the urban landscape of the Left Bank, it aims solve the dual challenge of aura and performance in an environment steeped in history.

OMA bridge with pedestrian boulevard in final round of Bordeaux competition
Image copyright Frans Parthesius

A final decision between designs by OMA and Dietmar Feichtinger will be made in December this year, with the bridge scheduled for completion in 2018.

The project is developed in collaboration with engineers WSP, the landscape architect Michel Desvigne, as well as the consultant EGIS and light design agency Lumières Studio.

  • Jonathan

    So then – a wide bridge.

  • http://www.repenso.com tofee35

    The designers really thought about how this bridge would function in its context. Without knowing the city, in a vacuum, this looks like a fantastic addition to connecting two parts of a city. For me, a bridge with deep programmatic ambition beats the crap out of a bridge with structural and aesthetic/visual landmark-worthy ambition. As a Boston resident, I could see something similar happening across the Charles to connect the Back Bay and Cambridge. Maybe I’m reaching…

  • rob

    Remains the fact that 99% of the time we’ll be stuck with a kind of dull and oversized bridge where the USSR could have done their 1 May parades. Not really sure if Bordeaux is that dynamic as a city to be in need of this type of public space, will OMA design and organize the featured activities on this bridge as well?

    • Rad

      I have to deeply disagree with you. You should have a closer look at their aerial diagram.

      That first rendering is bit deceiving, but if you think about the urban patterns, behaviors and other sociological aspects within small cities in Europe you would realise what a huge potential this type of the open public gathering space might have.

      I am certain that the city will have the use out that open space all year round.

  • ber

    Isn’t such a confined space a bit problematic in terms of crowd control? I still have the Loveparade disaster of 2010 in Duisburg in my mind …

  • studio67

    Build a new island.

  • Selven Veerabadren Architects

    Regardless to futile and non-leading debates about size or capacity, I believe that Mr Rem Koolhaas honours today the real definition of the “bridge”. This project offers to the world community of thinkers and builders a lesson about humility in our architectural projects to be taken as a necessary dimension for contemplation and respect of our immediate environment for a proper evolution in time. A slab and load bearing columns underneath are just the accuracy needed and nothing more, unlike those “show off” exaggerated structural means and shapes that have become the fashion of architects and engineers in the world today. Finally “less is more” still survives. It is a remarkable come back to the lovely city of Bordeaux. As an ancient student of the school of architecture of Bordeaux, I can tell that Mies and Le Corbusier must be celebrating.

    Written by:
    Selven Veerabadren Architect- Mauritius/France
    Jan 2014