Melkweg Bridge

Higher expectations

The Melkweg Bridge is an icon for the city of Purmerend. A composition of two bridges connects the historic city centre with the new Weidevenne district. The high arch over the Noordhollandsch Canal offers a unique panoramic view and makes the connection between the old and new city tangible. The unique bridge is more than just a quick crossing over the canal; the user is given the choice to cross the canal in different ways. It has become a central meeting point and a new attractive destination for the city.
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Marijn Schenk, Michel Schreinemachers, Bart Reuser with Tara Steenvoorden, Jurriaan Hillerstrom, Mark Jongerius (all NEXT) and Rudy Uytenhaak, Karin Dorrepaal and Jonathan van Leeuzen (all RUA)

Ronald Rietveld Landschaparchitectuur, Ingenieurs Bureau Amsterdam (IBA), ABT adviesbureau voor Bouwtechniek

Iconic Award 2014 / Winner
National Steel Prize 2014 / Nominee
BNA Building of the Year Awards 2013 / Honourable Mention

Jeroen Musch, Andreas Schuh, Frits van Laar

Exploring public space

The Melkweg Bridge is part of the master plan Kanaalsprong in Purmerend, which aims to connect the old and new city. The design responds to the transforming environment of Purmerend; the location of the canal has changed from the edge of the city into a centrally located area. The iconic bridge reinforces the identity of the area and forms a characteristic link that brings the Weidevenne district and the historic city closer together.

Within this process, the bridge does not only contribute as an infrastructural element but also as a supplement to the public space: the new iconic destination reinforces the positive experience of the environment. The structure is more than just a physical connection across the canal, it is a pleasant place to stay that offers a unique perspective on the city.

Connecting city districts

The construction consists of two bridges, which smoothly flow into each other and together create a coherent whole. By separating the bicycle and wheelchair traffic from the pedestrians, it was possible to build the arch bridge in line with the historic Melkweg. As a result, the direct pathway to the centre has been preserved and the bridge offers the fastest possible connection between the different parts of the city.

The Melkweg Bridge gives users the choice to cross the canal in various ways to choose the degree of speed themselves. Cyclists and wheelchair users cross the canal with a pendulum of sufficient length to limit the slope of the cycle path. Pedestrians cross the canal with a high arch of more than twelve meters. On top of the arch, integrated benches offer a moment of rest and contemplation with spectacular views over the city. Here, users can reorient themselves and lay the mental connection between the old and new districts of Purmerend.

Creating two bridges in one

The unique steel construction of the different bridge parts smoothly transitions together into a whole. The rejuvenating bridge deck accentuates the flowing, continuous lines. The edges of the bridge are covered with wooden parts. The unity between the two bridge sections is enhanced by the continuity in material and colour. LED lines have been installed on the edge of the bridge to illuminate its contours in the dark.

The pedestrian bridge is supported by a steel arch. The favourable construction makes it possible to maintain openness and perspective over the canal. The movable bridge section consisting of two steel scissors is located between the fixed landings of the bicycle bridge. Constructively, the low bridge can be understood as a double swing bridge, in which the bridge parts, when open, guide the passage of ships over the canal.

The management and maintenance of the bridge were taken into account in the design choices. This includes conservation, coating (anti-graffiti), detailing, and water drainage. Combining steel and concrete, the constructional properties of both materials were used to the fullest. The choice to manufacture and preserve the steel bridge parts in the wharf results in a bridge of high quality and low maintenance. For the implementation, limiting nuisance on the busy canal was an important factor. The prefabrication of the large steel bridge sections resulted in minimal disruption to shipping.

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