Rafael Viñoly completes circular bridge spanning a Uruguayan lagoon

Architect Rafael Viñoly has completed a ring-shaped road bridge that stretches across a lagoon on Uruguay's southern coast (+ slideshow).

Laguna Garzon Bridge was designed by Viñoly – a Uruguayan architect based in New York – to replace a raft crossing connecting the cities of Rocha and Maldonado.

Laguna Garzon Bridge by Rafael Vinoly

The concrete structure is raised above the water on cylindrical piles and provides a crossing for up to 1,000 vehicles each day. The road is bracketed by a pair of pedestrian walkways.

The ring-shaped structure frames a circle of water, creating a "lagoon inside a lagoon" where people can swim, fish or sightsee.

Rafael Viñoly explained: "The concept of the Puente Laguna Garzon was to transform a traditional vehicular crossing into an event that reduces the speed of the cars, to provide an opportunity to enjoy panoramic views to an amazing landscape, and at the same time create a pedestrian place in the centre."

Laguna Garzon Bridge by Rafael Vinoly

Viñoly is perhaps best known as the designer of London's Walkie Talkie building, which was nicknamed Walkie Scorchie after the glare from its curvy glass facade melted the bodywork of nearby cars.

The construction of the Laguna Garzon Bridge – which used over 450 tons of formed steel, 40,000 metres of post tensioned cables and 3,500 cubic metres of concrete – has also proved controversial, provoking protests from environmental groups.

Laguna Garzon Bridge by Rafael Vinoly

"The rotunda also signals the terminus of the National Route 10," said Viñoly.

"I accepted to design the bridge on the condition that Route 10 – a federal highway that has been the main access to the beach resorts along the Uruguayan coast and one of the most destructive planning drivers of the territory – be downgraded to local jurisdiction in order to better control the development process."

Laguna Garzon Bridge by Rafael Vinoly

The Laguna Garzon Bridge took 12 months to complete and opened in late 2015. It is located near popular resorts Punta del Este and José Ignacio – home to a new development of concrete holiday homes by Adamo-Faiden.

"It is an iconic architectural piece that will be a catalytic factor in driving the development of Rocha’s coastline," said Argentine developer Eduardo Costantini, who invested 80 per cent of the $10 million (£7 million) construction costs. Costantini is also behind the nearby Las Garzas development.

Rafael Viñoly Architects is currently working on a super-tall skyscraper in Manhattan scheduled for completion later this year and a pair of residential towers in Chicago.

Project credits:

Architecture: Rafael Viñoly
Construction: Saceem
Collaborators: MTOP, Las Garzas Blancas, Dirección Nacional de Vialidad, Uruguayan State