The glass surface of the bridge by star architect Santiago Calatrava, Ponte della Costituzione, will be replaced with stone, as the slick surface was the cause of numerous incidents.
The bridge, Ponte della Costituzione is a multimillion-dollar work of glass and steel that opened in 2008. Its smooth curve above the Grand Canal, near Venice’s train station, was meant to symbolise the city’s embrace of modernity, but it has become better known as a stage for ruinous tumbles and dangerous slips.
The bridge is 94-meter long (308 feet), with a central span of 81 meters (266 feet). It rises from a height of 3.2 meters (10.5 feet) to 9.28 meters (30 feet) at midpoint. The all-steel structural element consists of a central arch of very large radius (180 meters or 590 feet), with two side arches and two lower arches. Joining the arches are girders made of steel tubes and plates, forming closed section boxes, which are placed radial to the main radius. The steps and deck of the bridge are made of tempered security glass, natural Istria and Trachite stones, picking up the design of the existing pavement (the abutments, made of reinforced concrete are clad in the same stone). The parapet is entirely glass, with a bronze handrail comprising its upper edge. At night, fluorescent bulbs set within the handrail will illuminate the path, adding to the stage-set effect created by illumination from below the transparent deck. Spotlights set low on the walls will illuminate the ground on either end of the bridge.
“Care has been taken to integrate the bridge with the quays on either side. The steps and ramps are designed to add vitality to both sides of the canal, while the abutments, which are crescent shaped, leave pedestrians with free access to the quays. The areas at either end act as extensions of the bridge, creating new celebratory spaces for Venice. On the south side, the design also provides a new passage between Piazzale Roma and the mooring platforms for the ACTV water transport,” says architect’s website.
However, authorities have decided to replace the glass surface after several incidents of falls and slips and complaints by the tourists. However, Venice’s plan still needs to undergo structural tests and be approved by the city’s architectural authority.