The challenge posed by this project is not to design a way to cross a river nor to produce a beautiful bridge. An old quiet construction already bridges Drava river in the project area in a given way. Proposing a narcissistic form could be a possible choice for other emplacements that may need bridges. In this particular case this choice is immediately rejected: a "beautiful structure" either creates a visual confusion with the existing bridge or rivals with it. A particular invisibility is -in a way- needed for this duplication. The question is how to deal with this needed invisibility and how to create, through the opportunity of this design, a condition of possible "urban interiors".The question thus is immediately transposed in an urban level. This project deals with a benevolent expansion of the city center towards the river. Lent and Tabor are the main invisible actors; the bridge itself does not have to be that important. The aim of the proposal is not to produce an architectonic sculpture but rather to direct the new urban condition. The design aims to offer a new place to Maribor and not an "architectural collection piece".
We are ready to propose a bridge close to an existing one. We are not called to design an isolated architectonic element but a part of a city's expanding center. the duplication of a bridge is our point of departure; why to propose a new bridge so closed to an old one? We may reformulate the question: It is not a bridge that we need but two riversides, junked in another lower level. We have to imagine a possible constitution of the two sides in order to propose a possible link. We will have then to understand the river at this particular spot as a possible urban formation. Lent and Tabor are in this project two possible major pedestrian boulevards close to the water. How could we create the conditions for an animated area in the place where now lay two more or less neglected riversides? How can "Drava's water surface" organize at this spot, through the installation of a bridge an urban reference?
A possible answer to these questions may be structured by some points.
- The position of the bridge will have to transform the river at this part of the city into a particular "water living room".
- The new bridge will not only mark the articulation between the two riversides but also propose the "architectonic program for a stay" in the bridged areas.
- A junction between the older bridge and the new one will have to be possible. The shape for the junction will mark the particular "duplication of the bridge". This bridge's originality will have to do with the non authentic character imposed necessarily by this substitution of a bridge from another. The city's rhythm is already regulated by the existing bridge. We have to think about the interconnection of the two junction systems not as if the only result will be a mere substitution. A complex urban condition is to be analyzed and elaborated anew by this system of duplication.
This project proposes the simple unification of the riverbanks through a narrow strip that is only shaped as a continuation of the proposed riverbank floors. The project tries to transform the idea of a simple line that shapes ordinarily the bridging rationale to something different: the urban space is more important then the bridging element. To boycott the trivial operational linearity of a bridge would then be the urban question. A creation of an urban character in the intervention area is linked with the idea of a more complex installed "timeline". The proposal would then resist to the production of an architectonic sculpture and rather direct a new urban situation. This design aims to offer a new place to Maribor and not a sculture.
An island platform is created close to Lent, in a place where the river is shallow, positioned with caution not to incommode the flux. This platform serves in the same time as a vertical junction with the existing bridge and is completed as an amphitheater pier. It serves as a possible meeting point where people can meet in order to enter a public culture place; it offers a gathering place during sunny mornings, a multiple projections space during the evenings or during the summer nights. From this spot people may watch screenings projected in many possible surfaces of the simple construction or follow the old bridge festive activities seated in the amphitheater. This high and light construction proposes, in the same move, a curtain (that may filter the light for an interior urban platform), a contemporary challenge of a screen installation (that may transform it to an urban reference point), a meeting place and a pedestrian circulation node. Its metallic surfaces are tissued with some distorted slovenian motives and also offer the place for urban scale projections, sometimes necessarily reflected in the water. Ramps propose the link of the new pedestrian bridge to the old bridge's sidewalk which is expected to be used even after the construction of the new bridge. A vast island-platform in immediate relation to the river's water is installing another smaller, "interior", alternative sitting place.
This proposal can be read as a multiple investigation about urban surfaces. What an urban surface could be today? How can we create complex, urban, relational conditions while using urban surfaces? A manipulation of surfaces formed the research vocabulary of this work. We had to begin with the consideration of Lent's and Tabor's dynamics while we they were interpreted as simple surfaces. Different writings on surfaces are condensing then an urban reading where an approach of two riverbanks would be the main viewing point. The writings extended on the surfaces either propose an inhabitation of some kind (when, for instance, some distortions of the local, decorative languages are distorted) or are detected in a contemporary sphere, dealing with the installation of the moving image on the surfaces that form today's cities. Concerning the first local writing: The same pattern is used as a grid metallic structure in some metallic parts of the project and on the floor. A slovenian, decorative motif was elaborated in order to create the urban floor. The decorative work uses some motifs found on elevations of houses and interprets them in a new way, after annulling their vivid chromatic character and transforming them in black and white repetitive shapes. We can think again about decoration nowadays, beginning from a different point of view than from the classical recorded looks to decoration. The concept of locality and of distortion would be critical in any of these approaches. The concept of distorted decoration may unify the local inquiry and the international condition.
Some surfaces and a node is the result of this bridge investigation. The duplication of an old bridge, in a different level and the given condition of the city are leading this approach of the problem to a consideration of its field. The field is proposed as a series of unified fragments. The writings are part of this unification strategy. In the new field we can place a node, in order to condense a field's possible "center". It is a platform island, that even if constructed as a light scaffold, it is undertaking an important role that the city would have to regulate. It may even be a transformable structure. It will be interesting to imagine it as an "open form" urban object. In this case the same urban object is proposed in a double (diurnal and nocturnal) function, in order that its plasticity is assured. The duplicated bridge could be read as a short, Maribor essay on "substitution" and some of its forms.
Architect: Aristide Antonas
Civil engineer: Christos Kaklamanis
Collaborator: Katerina Koutsogianni