Simone Ferracina is a project manager at Richard Meier & Partners, responsible for the design of a new bridge in Alessandra, Italy. It’s bringing people back to the river, but in making the pedestrian part of the bridge the most coveted square in the city, it’s also an extraordinary place for public gatherings. A+A recently interviewed Simone via email:
How did the site drive the bridge’s design?
The bridge stretches across the Tanaro river in a remarkable urban configuration, connecting one of the largest public piazzas in Alessandria (piazza Gobetti, the re-qualification of which was part of the original proposal) and a unique 18th century star fort and citadel. The tension between these two poles, and the need to reconnect them, was a driver for the design, and contributed to the emphasis given to the experience of pedestrians. In addition, the bridge was conceived as a public piazza on the water, as an opportunity to mend the city’s relationship with the river.
How does this bridge improve upon the old one and mitigate future flooding?
The piers of the old bridge trapped debris in the river, effectively acting as a dam. Furthermore, the roadway elevation was considerably lower. The project mitigated such problems by raising the bridge above the flood plain and by suspending it across the river.
Why choose the materials you did? How sustainable are they?
Materials were selected for their structural strength (steel, concrete) and for their durability. Photocatalytic concrete was chosen for its ability to break down pollutants and to keep surfaces clean, minimizing maintenance requirements. And while the color white allows the bridge to neutrally respond to variations in light conditions across the day and seasons, augmenting its surroundings, the solid teak decking proposes a warmer, almost domestic, materiality which invites the citizens of Alessandria to safely re-appropriate the river.
What is the intent of the design?
The design aspires to re-launching Alessandria on the international stage, catalyzing its future success and prosperity. In particular, we hope that the project will promote the preservation and reactivation of the Cittadella fort, and provide a fantastic new public space for citizens and visitors to use and enjoy.
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