Red pyramids frame pedestrian and cycle bridges in Reykjavík by Teiknistofan Tröð

A pair of hollow red pyramids support the weight of these bridges that span the mouth of the river Elliðaár in the Icelandic capital (+ slideshow).

Bicycle and pedestrian bridges by Ragnhildur Kristjansdottir

Designed by local firm Teiknistofan Tröð, the two bridges create pedestrian and cycle routes across the tidal estuary of Elliðaár – a river that runs down through Reykjavík from the volcanic mountain range of Bláfjöll to the south.

Bicycle and pedestrian bridges by Ragnhildur Kristjansdottir

The river is split into two, hence the need for a pair of bridges.

But the halves are similar in width, meaning it was possible to create structures that match one another.

Bicycle and pedestrian bridges by Ragnhildur Kristjansdottir

Both structures are supported by a tilted pyramid, each constructed from a trio of red-painted steel columns that vary in length.

Steel tension rods extend down from the top of the pyramids to hold the 36-metre-long decks below.

Bicycle and pedestrian bridges by Ragnhildur Kristjansdottir

"The two bridges are identical in shape but mirrored, and their appearance varies from different angles," said a statement from Teiknistofan Tröð.

"The goal was to minimise the use of material by giving the bridges a basic shape that also becomes their identity," it said. "The stable basic structural systems allowed material usage and construction cost to be minimised."

Bicycle and pedestrian bridges by Ragnhildur Kristjansdottir

Pile foundations on the river bank help to anchor the bridges to their site, while the decks consist of hollow concrete slabs with sloping surfaces that help rainwater to naturally drain off.

Bicycle and pedestrian bridges by Ragnhildur Kristjansdottir

The project was completed in 2013, as one of the first steps in a plan to upgrade the Geirsnef peninsula and its surroundings, which combine a natural environment with a "rough" industrial area.

Bicycle and pedestrian bridges by Ragnhildur Kristjansdottir

"The new pedestrian and cycle bridges present a positive change in form of transport," said the architects, "but simultaneously by choice of materials, colour and the shape of the bridge structure, they have clear reference to the surroundings and the history of the site."

Bicycle and pedestrian bridges by Ragnhildur Kristjansdottir

Elliðaár is also hugely popular with anglers, so lighting for the bridges had to be as non-disruptive as possible. To achieve this, LEDs were recessed into the handrails, and illuminated bollards were installed along the pathways.

Bicycle and pedestrian bridges by Ragnhildur Kristjansdottir

Red is a popular colour choice for bridge designers. Teiknistofan Tröð's design joins a list including a railway crossing in France by Bernard Tschumi, a series of garden bridges in China by West 8, and a structure made out of paper by artist Steve Messam.


Project credits:

Client: City of Reykjavík and The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration
Architects: Teiknistofan Tröð
Team: Hans-Olav Andersen, Sigríður Magnúsdóttir, Sveinn Bragason, Laufey Agnarsdóttir, Ragnhildur Kristjánsdóttir
Structural design: Sigurður Ingi Ólafsson, Teiknistofan Nýbýli
Lighting design: VJI Consulting
Landscape consultant: Jenny Osuldsen, landscape architect at Snøhetta
Image processing: Magnús Andersen
Main contractor: Ístak
Sub-contractor, steel: Jiang Nan Shipyard
Sub-contractor, stainless steel: Juli Sling co. LTD Shanghai

Bicycle and pedestrian bridges by Ragnhildur Kristjansdottir
Site plan – click for larger image
Bicycle and pedestrian bridges by Ragnhildur Kristjansdottir
Section – click for larger image