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Firm Brings New Meaning to ‘Blowing up a Bridge’

Friday, March 11, 2016

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You’ll find a lot of photos of bridges on social media channels, including those that are awe-inspiring, under construction, being imploded or historically significant.

You’ll also find one that just isn’t real. Tweets still pop up showing a “trampoline bridge” crossing the Seine in Paris, originally conceived in 2012.

It’s pretty striking and looks like a lot of fun. The problem is: It’s not really there.

That doesn’t stop Twitter users from sharing photos of the thing all these years later.

A Hop Across the River, an Internet resource dedicated to debunking urban legends, myths, rumors and other bits of misinformation, recently called attention to the supposed French trampoline bridge.

To set the record straight, Snopes pointed readers to a 2012 World Architecture Community blog post outlining details of a specific design competition. The contest put out a call for proposals for a new contemporary bridge over the Seine River in Paris that would stand out from the rest of the city’s 37 bridges already crossing the river.

Architectural firm Atelier Zündel Cristea (AZC) entered the competition with its inflatable bridge concept.

Inflatable Bridge

Conceived by Grégoire Zündel and Irina Cristea, the Saut de Seine (Seine Jump) proposal suggested a 94-meter (about 308-foot) inflatable bridge equipped with giant trampolines “dedicated to the joyful release from gravity as one bounces above the river,” the firm’s site explains.

Intended to be situated near the Bir-Hakeim Bridge, the trampoline bridge would be composed of 30-meter-diameter (about 98 feet in diameter) inflatable modules, “like giant life-preservers,” made from PVC membrane, the designers said.

The inflatables would be joined together by cords to form the full structure, and trampoline mesh would be stretched across the center of each module. Under tension and filled with 3,700 cubic meters (about 130,664 cubic feet) of air, the firm added, the individual inflatable modules would reshape to form the bridge’s arches.

“The Saut de Seine allows every visitor a novel view of Paris from his or her own unique spatial position: upright and leaping, upside down and tumbling, gliding above like a circus performer,” the specs read.

Noting the proximity of the iconic Eiffel Tower to their unusual structure, the firm said, “We think the superposition of these two works reveals a specific kind of architecture: one designed to install an experience of happiness in the city.”

Real-World Installation

AZC walked away with third place in the competition, and, so it seems, the hearts and minds of the online community.

And while the Seine “bouncing bridge” hasn’t yet seen the light of day, don’t despair. AZC was able to test its concept in another form and place.

AGC's Bouncing Bridge test

AZC shares the details of how it constructed and tested its one-of-a-kind "bouncing bridge" concept in Spain.

The group successfully built a smaller version of the “bouncing bridge” in 2014, it explained in a video on Dailymotion. The real-life model was only about 10 meters (32.8 feet) in diameter and set up as a temporary installation on the Lake of Banyoles in Spain, but it appeared to be no less fun than what the online community imagines.


Tagged categories: Architects; Asia Pacific; Bridges; Competitions; Contests; Design; Design build; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Latin America; North America; Program/Project Management

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