Above are images from my submission for the competition "Safe Trestles" hosted by Architecture for Humanity and Open Architecture Network, two groups that are making a difference in the world with their design as a tool. The program called for a safe crossing over, under and/or through a fragile wetland ecosystem and railroad. The site is the Trestles an exemplary surfing spot, from most reports. Below is my text for the design:
Conflict and contradiction exist at the site. The tampered and precious natural wetlands must be restored by building an unnatural and man-made safe crossing. Nature must be enabled to heal itself. We must allow it to do so. The design must be part of the site and work as counterpoint to it. It must work with the conflicts inherent in the site and the program and make something that is as poetic and powerful as nature itself. It must enhance and improve the site and provide non-intrusive ways to enjoy it.
Inspiration derives from the site. At the Trestles, nature has provided a canvas made by the wetlands with its grasses. Slashing through this canvas is an unnatural man-made railroad. Both these elements coexist. The bridge must draw from these inspirations. It must be a part of it. Also the design must capture the dynamism of the surfing sport. It must be bold. It must soar. In contrast to how the railroad cuts through the site, the safe passage will be a bridge, flying over it. Human foot traffic will be removed from the wetlands. From this bridge the wetlands can be observed. Views will be created. The bridge will be a place that will enhance the site, provide access to it and provide a sanctuary on high, literally, to worship the play of the waves, the setting of the sun, and the sway of the wetland grasses.
Through prefabrication technology, the bridge will be made of components, molded off-site, delivered as modules and assembled at the site by crane. In this way there will be minimal impact to the construction site. The technology of fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) composites and structural grade plastic lumber (SGPL) shall be developed to provide Green modular bridge components that are both resilient and recyclable. The bridge shall also create energy by harnessing wind. Solar panels shall also be installed to provide energy for any information points and lighting. Restrooms shall be provided underground and work with composting technology. Finally, the whole of the bridge shall be accessible.
The whole of the design is laid out on one spine. As the railroad cuts a line through the site, so will this bridge. The path starts some fifty feet above the Trestles at the drop-off point. An observation point to view the beach and wetlands from this height is provided. This point will also be a low-key point of orientation. Only a bench, drinking fountain, and educational plaque will be provided. From here a ramp will lead northeast then doubles back upon itself southwest delving underground where public restrooms will be provided. Moving towards the shore, the bridge emerges from the hillside and runs straight as a bullet towards the shore. On the left the bluff stands with the wetlands on the right. The webbed and woven structure of the bridge is intermittently broken by observation points with information about the wetlands and the Trestles. The criss-cross concept of the bridge structure derives from the mesh of the wetland reeds and grasses. The bridge stretches out and over the sea from which surfing events, and the surf itself, can be viewed. From here another ramp is provided down to the Trestles snaking around a main structural wall and enclosed in a metallic and reflective screen. A landing is provided at the beach, level with it, as another point of orientation. You have arrived at the Trestles.