Integrating connectivity, biodiversity, culture and ecology, this pedestrian bridge by the Melbourne-Shanghai-based firm, BAU, is a hybrid public destination for leisure and relaxation.
April 8th, 2022
Forging a connection between Jiangsu Province and Shanghai, the Yuandang Pedestrian Bridge by BAU (BAU Brearley Architects + Urbanists) blurs the lines between structure and sculpture, with its elegant ensemble that incorporates ecology, transportation, culture and landscape. Combining elements typically not seen in a pedestrian bridge, the design embraces hybrid conditions where nature and infrastructure come together to create surprising and unexpected experiences for its pedestrians, creating moments of respite, discovery and engagement.
The nature of the surrounding context aided with the development of the programmatic requirements for the bridge. The districts on both sides of the Yuandang Lake feature extensive networks of wetland parks along waterways and the lake, and have pedestrian path nets and bicycle greenway nets. With these commonalities on both sides of the lake, the client’s and BAU’s ambition was to represent the shared culture of the two provinces in one bridge.
One interpretation of a shared local cultural tradition is, perhaps, the most noticeable feature of the pedestrian bridge – the porous sculptural pavilion that references the collecting and displaying of the Lake Tai (Taihu) rock. Found at the foothills of Dongting Mountain near Lake Tai in Suzhou, the hard limestone rocks have a large scale porosity formed from water erosion. The rock is valued for a variety of its qualities including surface texture, play of light, shade and wind through its holes, which are some of the qualities that the pavilion seeks to evoke.
Beyond just symbolically referencing cultural elements, BAU placed high importance on ecological components of the design and how the bridge could become a connector between Jiangsu Province and Shanghai in more ways than one. The bridge’s winding path and a six-metre wide deck features three bands: cycling path, walking path and a space for local vegetation that creates an appearance of a floating garden connecting the river banks.
“The client did not plan on vegetation or a pavilion on the bridge but embraced these initiatives,” recollects James Brearley, founding director of BAU, which has home bases in both Melbourne and Shanghai. “The bridge is an extension of the larger landscape context. The serpentine plan of both of the park’s networks is adopted for the bridge, making it a smooth formal extension. It also provides the benefit of varying progressive views, a Chinese classical garden principle.”
The Yuandang Pedestrian Bridge does not fall short of expectations when it comes to variety of amenities not usually seen in a bridge. While the deck is divided into three primary bands, it varies in width to accommodate widened sections for resting and enjoying the views of the lake. BAU combined vegetation, sculptural play spaces, plazas, shading and seating to entice pedestrians to explore and enjoy the bridge at their leisure.
With the ambition of supporting biodiversity, BAU has proposed not only planning upon the bridge, but also planting on new islands in the lake and planting on the lakebed. The design of the islands and lakebed planting has since been developed by the other landscape consultants and much of it has now been completed. With all the initiatives working together to form a habitat for indigenous flora and fauna, there is now a renewed promise to restore the area to a healthy biodiverse environment.
BAU Brearley Architects + Urbanists
Video by Dera (Construction footage provided by CCCC Shanghai Dredging Co., Ltd.)
Keep up to date with the latest and greatest from our industry BFF's!
Update your home office with Blu Dot’s range of unique and inspiring furniture solutions, all 20% off for the entire month of June.
According to Le Corbusier, the struggle for it underpins the history of architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright described it as a “beautifier of buildings”. And Motoko Ishii famously equated it to life itself. Indispensable, life-affirming and metamorphic, light underpins all architectural and design efforts.
With one of the largest custom flooring offerings in the Oceania region, GH Commercial can transform unique concepts into one-of-a-kind solutions that bring interiors to life.
Indigenous-settler reconciliation is not just an intention, or even an outcome, writes Nicky Lobo. It’s an ongoing creative process that will challenge, reveal and ultimately transform relationships.
Through insight and expertise, Jefa Greenaway has forged a career highlighting Indigenous perspectives in architecture and design. He’s a powerful force for change, a man to be followed and his ideas emulated. Indeed, he is a man of our time.
Taking up the reigns of Managing Principal for Hassell’s Melbourne Studio, Richard Mullane says: “We plan to build a more inclusive, sustainable future for communities – and create a more socially and ecologically resilient world.”
The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed
How does hybrid working operate, in real world terms? We consider two recently completed projects, designed for a post-pandemic workforce.
With the demand for low silica quartz bench tops on the rise, there’s no looking past Ibrido – a ground-breaking engineered stone with unmatched depth and quality.
Art deco was once the world’s most popular interior design style. Could it reach such heights again?