The ‘Green Bridge’ design by biomorphis in Leith Walk, one of the key thoroughfares in Edinburgh, Scotland, aims at bringing a lightweight structure with low embodied energy. Construction materials based on plant products represent the way forward in terms of diminishing our dependence on hydrocarbons. Leith Walk, which unfortunately acts as a major divider, needs a bridge which would link the East cycle paths to the West of the city. It would redirect the ever-growing flows of bikes and pedestrians and also become a landmark for the community. More images and architects’ description after the break.
The transport sector produces more greenhouse gas emissions than any other sector in Scotland. But town planning strategies and local policies can call upon a number of initiatives to reduce this source of pollution. Over 300 communities around the world have already joined the “Transition Towns” movement, commencing the process of reducing their dependency on oil. In the same spirit, local associations in Edinburgh are trying to raise citizens awareness about environmental issues. Edinburgh Council has been looking for a vision for Leith Walk and this vision has to embrace the whole city: the network might be the key, but not any network. A network which belongs to the city’s history, a network which links the seemingly unlinkable just like the Old Town does with its superimpositions of routes. Edinburgh needs a new landscape which should depend on existing and underlying links. Some of them are missing while the chains are already clearly visible. One of Edinburgh’s key axis, It is hoped the new bridge, which will replace one demolished in 1980, will revive long-delayed plans to regenerate North Edinburgh.
A Sustainable Bridge Design: Timber will represent an adequate choice of material. Locally and bio-sourced timber provide an excellent ecological solution. The frame has been developed as an optimized system of simple straight timber boards suspended from two main steel cables anchored to the remains of the old structure. All boards would have an identical standard width for a purpose: the whole frame should be sourced from local artisans and locally assembled. The bridge’s design has moved from object thinking to system thinking; it is generated from an algorithm which responds to three guiding principles: suspension, repetition and alignment. The script provides an ocean of choices which have to be carefully selected to address the specific issues.
A Continuous Wildlife Corridor: The idea is to emulate what has been done in other great cities like Paris and New-York. In both cases, disused train tracks became not only public paths but elevated parks and gardens. The city reclaimed them.
The elevated garden will be a park for all, made of communal gardens. The new gardens will allow neighbors of all backgrounds to share time and experience to become the new eco-citizens of Edinburgh. The gardens will encourage biodiversity by creating a wildlife corridor above the city and offer a natural animal habitat. Like every project involving the introduction of vegetation into the city, this needs to be seriously prepared in terms of zoning and mapping for weeding. The question of water even in Scotland is still crucial. One needs a careful selection of plants which require very little watering from collected rainwater.