UTRECHT – NEXT architects continues to impress with its growing portfolio of architecture and infrastructure projects. A recent example is a bicycle bridge that glides above a new school in the Dutch city of Utrecht. Developed in partnership with Rudy Uytenhaak, the bridge connects the city centre to the new district of Leidsche Rijn. It features a bold swirling loop that dips and slides through the residential neighbourhood. The generous slope of the access ramp, which ascends to a height of 7 m, leaves room for the school buildings below.
As seen with The Elastic Perspective built back in 2014, the international practice led by Bart Reuser, Marijn Schenk, Michel Schreinemachers and John van de Water maintains its devotion to experimenting and extending the intertwined nature of architecture and infrastructure, as well as the perception of movement through space.
The path circles around a bowl-shaped playground and garden that announce the school entrance, which opens into an inner courtyard. As the path passes over the roof of the school, cyclists are met by the first set of asymmetric pylons that support the slim suspension bridge. ‘In one fluid movement, the cycle route, park, and school are brought together to form a cohesive whole of infrastructure, architecture, and landscape,’ explains Marijn Schenk, NEXT architects.
Seen from the Leidsche Rijn, the bridge is exceptional in its presence and height, as the pylons pierce the sky and the cyclists begin their climb. Arriving on the other side, they sense the pylons opening, aligning themselves with a row of trees and offering a clear view to the denser city centre.
The Dafne Schippers Bridge - named after the famed athlete and resident of Utrecht - opened in April 2017. If estimates are correct, the bridge will save time for more than 7000 cyclists daily, during their commute across the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal.