In the second quarter of 2021, a new pedestrian bridge is set to be built across De Boelegracht near The George. At a walk-in meeting held on 1 July 2020, the plans were presented to local residents.
The bridge has been designed by Amsterdam artist Martijn Sandberg who has previously worked on the Olympic Quarter, Kraaipanplein and the De Zilverling residential tower. When the design has been completed, a shiny golden artwork will span De Boelegracht, measuring 26 metre in length and 2.04 metre in width, with a 1.2 metre high balustrade featuring bars and figurative elements.
Engineering and art combined
The bridge across De Boelegracht has been designed to create a link across the canal that can be easily maintained, cope with any movement caused by wind and be safe for users. Civil engineering company Haasnoot Bruggen is responsible for the engineering design and its realisation. Sandberg has added his artistic imagery to this, characterised by language, typography and the use of such materials as stone, steel, concrete and brick paving. Sandberg’s design is an ode to public art and to the bridge as an architectural phenomenon. The bars on the bridge will be in gold-coloured steel, ensuring every movement on the bridge is reflected in the water. Sandberg: ‘The design plays with light, relief and shadow. At the same time, the bridge gives a subtle nod to art and will always be what the viewer makes of it.’
BPD and AM behind the initiative
The plan to build an artwork near The George was first suggested over one and a half years ago and was an initiative of the developers BPD and AM, who, as part of the Zuidschans construction consortium, are gifting this artwork to the local area. Since there have been repeated calls for a bridge in this area, the idea quickly emerged of linking the art commission to the construction of a pedestrian bridge, providing Zuidas with an additional connection to Buitenveldert. ‘As area developers, we not only feel responsible for the realisation of high-quality buildings, but also for the living environment’, explains Sharon Oldenkotte-Vrolijk, Art & Culture Director at BPD. ‘This is a very special area of development and we wanted to add extra quality to the public space around The George. That’s exactly what we aim to offer the city and the residents and users of the area by building this bridge. It can only enhance living and working in Zuidas and the connection with Buitenveldert.’
Residents speak out
So that was the background for the bridge. But what did local residents have to say about the design yesterday? Anneke de Jong, Amsterdam Zuidas: ‘On 1 July, a ‘real’ walk-in meeting was held for the first time in ages, obviously fully compliant with the coronavirus measures.’ Around 35 local residents attended in Zuidwende, the location where people were invited to give their views. As well as a lot of enthusiasm for the bridge and Sandberg’s artwork, there were also some residents who felt the bridge was unnecessary. ‘That’s the great thing about being able to express your views – not everyone sees something to rejoice about our plans. It was good to hear some healthy discussion about the pros and cons of an extra link across the water.’ The environmental permit for the bridge is expected to be applied for in September. At that time, anyone will be free to submit an opinion, for or against. Keep a close eye on this website for the dates.