Young architect practice speaks out following bridge design disqualification
Rotterdam is considered to be at the forefront of architectural design in the Netherlands, but following their disqualification from a competition to design Rijnhaven Bridge, young architects firm Bureau SLA have branded Rotterdam city council as ‘too afraid’ to accept innovation.
In February 2008 five architecture firms, including Bureau SLA, were invited to design Rijnhaven Bridge, a pedestrian and cycle bridge located amongst architectural works by Foster, Mecanoo, Siza, OMA, Piano and Cruz y Ortiz at the Wilhelminapier. A spokesperson for Bureau SLA said: “Ambition and innovation are called for: Rotterdam wants a bridge as daring as the hard-working, rough and ready city itself, a powerful image, a prominent landmark!”
But the firm’s daring design, which opens upwards from two sides in a scissor action to allow for passing boats, has been disqualified despite the re-submission of calculations as the city council saw this as an unfeasible engineering feat. The spokesperson added: “Rotterdam thinks the bureau SLA design is very innovative, but also - very difficult. Bureau SLA, with their engineering consultants DHV and Delcan, are asked for extended calculations. The city can hardly believe it: this bridge will not collapse? More calculations and details are asked for. The city’s engineers still cannot believe it. This is too difficult, surely this is madness! The best thing to do and be done with the whole conundrum is to disqualify the entry.”
While Bureau SLA are a young company, their engineers DHV are a large and international consultancy and engineering company with offices in sixty cities in almost thirty countries, Delcan being an engineering firm specializing in hydraulics. Convinced by the combined knowledge and detailed calculations submitted, the firm have left the competition with the conclusion that: “The architects provided an astonishing design, the engineers developed it into a realistic and technically optimized bridge. Daring, powerful, a prominent landmark. (This is)the bridge the city ought to have, but is too afraid to build.”
The firms criticism joins that of Monolab architects who recently condemned the 'mediocre quality' and 'primitive' nature of towers in the city whilst calling for an extension to the existing high-rise quarter and submitting their design for City Tower.
Designs by Rotterdam architects Quist Wintermans, German firm Bolles & Wilson, Danish practice Dissing & Weitling and Dutch architects bureau ZUS (Rotterdam) for Rijnhaven Bridge are still in the running.
Niki May Young