Tactical urbanism generates so much buzz now---what with cheeky-smart interventions like scaffolding seating, recliner benches, and recreational parklets---that it's easy to forget how pedestrians usually get shortchanged in the urban scheme of things. After World War II, Rotterdam remade its city center with larger-than-life modernist principles in mind, installing big works of infrastructure fringed with big buildings and, in the process, cutting central Rotterdam off from its northern districts. To improve their lot, residents are turning back the clock to 1854, when the city architect proposed a plan based on public walkways. "He planned canal promenades as a way of structuring the city," says Kristian Koreman, principal of ZUS (Zones Urbaines Sensibles). Now, of course, any pedestrian amenities must preserve traffic patterns, so ZUS designed a sky bridge that will knit the city center back together.
Dubbed the Luchtsingel, which translates to "raised promenade" (basically Dutch for High Line), the bridge is a stopgap solution to tide Rotterdam residents over until the government can step in and build something permanent. And the really excellent part is that residents are getting it done themselves with thousands of small donations. Just €25 (or $33) buys one of the 17,000 planks that will span the 1,150-foot bridge. Donors can have their names etched in the planks, which really puts the "public" in public works.
The project began as part of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) in 2012, and a portion was complete in time to host some elevated power yoga sessions last summer. The Luchtsingel should last for 15 years, though the city may take twice as long to fund its replacement. "The area cannot wait that long," ZUS's Anushka Wardenaar told Co.Exist. "Crowdfunding allows the bridge to be financed in an alternative way [so that] construction can start decades early. Improvement in the area is therefore no longer fully dependent on real estate developments."
Images courtesy of ZUS and I Make Rotterdam