Colorado | 2010
The United States is home to one of the most extensive road transportation networks in the world. The system of roads that facilitates so well the movement of people and goods from place to place imposes substantial obstacles to the other species sharing our environment. Animals cross roads because their lifestyles depend on the use of resources that are distributed in space. Whether we provide the means to ease these movements or not, they occur with great frequency. Resulting collisions with vehicles represent a safety hazard for travelers, a significant financial burden, and a threat to the viability of species populations located in landscapes dissected by roads.
The aim of this project was not to design a single “signature” bridge, but a system/method that allows a replication of various wildlife crossings locally, nationally and internationally. This wildlife crossing utilizes the surrounding landscape in order to create a new shape inspired by nature. The design uses a low tech system of layering wood planes to create an easily modifiable shape. The main design intent of the crossings is a structure derived from the abstraction of the topographical layers in the landscape above. The smooth organic curves of the topography in the natural environment of the crossing’s surface are reconstituted below in the rigid stratification of the structural layers in the built environment for vehicular traffic. The expression of this mirrored topography looks as if it had been carved from a single block of wood, optimizing the material to its maximum, before reaching its final shape. The result is a design that incorporates a flexible system that is able to respond to the dynamic requirements of the ecosystems it serves to protect while creating boundaries that visually and spatially isolate it from the analogous artificial human domain below. The monolithic bridge corpus is designed as a wide continuous beam which reacts with its section height on the stress conditions. The appearance from below is also the result of structural requirements. The structural system of the continuous beam is designed with a high redundancy and robustness, without any joints.