This is the Laguna Garzon Bridge in Garzon, Uruguay designed by Uruguayan architect Rafael Vinoly who has offices in New York City, Palo Alto, London, Manchester, Abu Dhabi and Buenos Aires. The bridge which was completed in 2015 has one of the rare circular shapes. Do you know why this bridge is so shaped?
The Garzón Lagoon is one of a series of environmentally sensitive bodies of water along Uruguay’s coast. It’s known as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area, a natural ecosystem that protects regional birds and their habitats, the Laguna Garzón Bridge site is popular for birdwatching and clam harvesting, and is surrounded by panoramic landscape views.
Thus, the architect, Rafael Vinoly, had twin responsibilities on his shoulder while accepting the offer to design the bridge. First, he had to take necessary steps not to harm the ecosystem of the area, both while constructing the bridge and post construction. Secondly, he had to protect the bird lovers’ interest by helping them in bird watching.
The result was a circular bridge consisting of two semi-circular one-way sections that form a kind of lagoon within a lagoon. Rafael Viñoly Architects’ design was chosen for its alternative solution to a typical bridge structure–a 202-meter (663-foot) ring of road sits over but does not disturb the fragile ecosystem, slows traffic inherently, and creates a pedestrian-friendly point of interest. Opened in December 2015, the bridge’s 16 round concrete pillars, placed 20 meters (65 feet) apart, support two ramps and a central ring road that crosses the lagoon. Pedestrian walkways on either side of the split traffic lanes give access to the bridge’s central opening and its perimeter, where visitors can sit, fish, and take in the views.
Tall enough for boats to pass freely underneath and designed with the fewest possible of pillars, the bridge was carefully designed to protect its existing ecosystem. The circular shape reduces shadows on the water below. The structural profile also forces motor vehicles to slow while crossing and encourages drivers to take in the natural beauty of the area.
Rafael Viñoly not only designed the bridge but also lobbied Uruguayan government agencies to give the highway’s development power to local jurisdictions whose interests are more environmentally-centered.