Olafur Eliasson's Copenhagen bridge resembles ship masts

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Copenhagen bridge by Olafur Eliasson is designed to resemble ship masts

Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson has created a bridge spanning a Copenhagen canal, which features a series of wire masts based on ships' rigging (+ slideshow).

Opening today, the Cirkelbroen (Circle Bridge) by Olafur Eliasson spans the Christianshavn Canal to connect the district's Christiansbro neighbourhood and Appleby's Square on either side of the water.

Cirkelbroen by Olafur Eliasson

The 40-metre-long footbridge is made from five interconnected circular platforms.

Each of the irregularly sized circles features a tall mast in reference to the boats that sail Copenhagen's waterways. Over 110 tensioned wires are threaded between the base of the bridge and the tips of five poles.

Cirkelbroen by Olafur Eliasson

"While I was working on the bridge, I picked up inspiration from this place and it made me think of fishing boats from my childhood on the island," said Eliasson.

"Fish cutters were often moored in the harbour right next to each other, and sometimes it seemed as if you could actually walk across the harbour by going from boat to boat."

Cirkelbroen by Olafur Eliasson

"The bridge's zigzag design allows users to slow down and change their focus. It calls for a renegotiation of the public space," he added.

Cirkelbroen by Olafur Eliasson

The central platform is articulated to allow the bridge to swing back on itself, creating a nine-metre gap for passing boat traffic while smaller boats such as kayaks can pass below the elevated podiums.

Red LEDs set in the balustrades illuminate the structure at night and are synchronised to turn on and off with the area's street lights. Curving Brazilian Guariuba wood handrails are affixed to the top of a crisscrossing arrangement of red railings.

Cirkelbroen by Olafur Eliasson

Cirkelbroen was commissioned by the Danish charity Nordea Foundation, which estimates that the bridge will be used by around 5,000 cyclists and pedestrians every day.


Related content: see more bridges


"Cirkelbroen makes it easier for the people of Copenhagen to move around the city," said Nordea Foundation chairman Mogens Hugo.

"But Cirkelbroen is much more than a bridge or a work of art. It is a new venue. It is an observation post in the harbour."

Cirkelbroen by Olafur Eliasson

The artist, who works out of studios in both Copenhagen and Berlin, also designed the 2007 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion with Snøhetta's Kjetil Thorsen.

But Eliasson is best known for his immersive light installations that have been installed in galleries including the Frank Gehry-designed Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris and the Tate Modern in London.

Photography is by Søren Svendsen and the Nordea Foundation.


Project credits:

Artist: Olafur Eliasson
Consultants: Ramboll
Project management: KMA Advisory
Construction management: Arpe & Kjeld Holm
Fabrication: KSM Industry
Hydraulic and control: SH-Group
Electrics: Høyrup and Clemmensen
Concrete: CG Jensen