The residents in the river region were confronted anxious times in 1993 and 1995. The water levels were extremely high and the dikes just managed to hold. A quarter of a million people had to be evacuated. Extremely high river discharges will occur more frequently in the future and for this reason it was decided to ensure that the rivers could discharge the forecast greater volumes of water without flooding. In response, a Nationwide project has started, the Dutch Room for the River Program. The goal of the program is to give the river more room to be able to manage higher water levels. At more than 30 locations, measures will be taken that give the river space to flood safely. Moreover, the measures will be designed in such a way that they improve the quality of the immediate surroundings.
The Zalige bridge in Nijmegen is part of Room for the Waal River as part of the national program. By creating a bypass for the river, the Waal, a new island, Veur-Lent, emerges. With a length of 700 feet the bridge connects the island and the northern riverbank. Its location, in the floodplain, makes the bridge partially submerge in the water a few days a year, with an average fluctuation of about 5 meters. This particular characteristic was used as one of the main design principles for the bridge.
In the Urban River Park, the spatial quality of the water safety thinking at the beginning of the 21st century, will be made visible. To experience the water dynamics is a major opportunity. The Urban River Park is a park that shows that river dynamics is the driving force behind an exciting and enjoyable new landscape. The fluvial dynamics are the basis of a water calendar, which is translated into a typology of the trail system in the park.
The curved Zalige bridge becomes an integral part of this path. At low tide, the bridge deck rests on land, but with rising waters the path and bridge submerge. The transition between bridge and path is smooth and gradual, and the longitudinal profile is asymmetrical, making only the lower part of the bridge disappear at high tide. Then the dynamics of the landscape are most visible, and the rising water becomes an attraction, as the high part of the bridge appears to float. Stepping stones that also can be used as benches enhance the recreational quality of the bridge.
More NEXT architects > 13.10.2016
Photos: Jeroen Bosch, Jennie Burgers, Rutger Hollander en Jan Daanen