Housing, park, bicycle and pedestrian bridge – the idea of the “Living Bridge Amsterdam” by Dominik Philipp Bernátek is all in one. A hybrid. A future vision of tomorrow’s architecture, which may offer new solutions in the face of increasingly dense cities. In our interview, the architect talks about the project, current challenges and his visions for our cities of the future.
Levke Kehl (LK): Mr. Bernátek, the design for your “living bridge” is part of the “Expanding Universes on Shrinking Footprints” project and is part of an urban “Green Loop” in Amsterdam. Can you briefly summarize the project and your idea?
Dominik Philipp Bernátek (DPB): The title “Expanding universes on shrinking footprints” describes the concept of my work as a whole. The project deals with the current situation in Amsterdam. The city should become a metropolis of the future: sustainable and interconnected for the people. The aim is to reduce cars in the city centre, to increase greening of the city and the wellfare of the people. My proposal for a “Green Loop” starts here. It describes an urban strategy that creates a bicycle and pedestrian park around the historic city centre and promotes mobility, among other things. It is a future-oriented and literally ‘green’ allegory of the historic city wall, with “Living Bridge Amsterdam” being an integral part of the Green Loop and connecting North Amsterdam with the city centre. The concept combines housing, park, bicycle and pedestrian bridge in one.
LK: What was particularly important to you in the development of your design of the “Living Bridge Amsterdam”?
DPB: It was very important to me, in line with the future goals of the city, to create a space that offers more benefits than just a conventional infrastructural connection. Amsterdam has long been committed to a high-quality, i.e. built pedestrian and cyclist connection between Amsterdam North and Amsterdam Centrum. To this day, small ferries, which are overloaded in rush hours, commute between the shores. In addition, there is also a very acute shortage of housing space, which leads to an ever-increasing expansion of the city and long distances.
My research has shown that a different approach offers many opportunities. “Living Bridge Amsterdam” creates social infrastructure and makes it possible to bring new qualities to Amsterdam.
LK: With your idea you have created a hybrid concept that combines several functionalities: Living, local recreation in the form of parks and mobility for bicycles. Is this an approach that can also be transferred to other cities?
DPB: Yes, this approach is easily transferable to other cities and scales (including buildings). Although each design has to be developed site-specifically and in a given context, the basic idea and the way of thinking can be the same. In this way, new and exciting building types, forms and qualities can be created that enable us to use space more effectively.
LK: With your design you are confronting many of the problems that fast-growing cities have today. In your opinion, what are the most important challenges for the future?
DPB: As cities become more dense and filled up with building masses, it is very important to place special emphasis on high attention to intelligent densification developments and the twin-phenomena of public and private. People should not only feel at home in their homes, but also outside the building – in the city itself! Traditional densification developments tend to navigate poorly between social, ecological and financial aspects. And these three aspects go hand in hand! We must combine programmes more efficiently, design our roofs more intelligently and offer more nature! Architecture always needs a vision.
Forecasts show that the population of cities and metropolitan areas will rise steeply within a few decades. Architects and urban designers will have a strong influence on the new space. It is one of the most important challenges of the future to design this space in a meaningful and intelligent way. Will suburbs of large cities grow immeasurably? What is the mobility of the future? How do we integrate nature and public space in densely populated cities?
LK: What do you see as the architecture of the future?
DPB: Apart from the well known and very important factors such as the holistic view based on the life cycles of materials and buildings, I find user satisfaction and room quality particularly important. As explained in the project presented, new and creative thinking can not only meet traditional needs, but also increase the use of space, increase financial profit and social aspects.
Read more about sustainable urban development here.