The Brygge bridge was the first bike and pedestrian bridge to open in Copenhagen. And the one that offers a significant shortcut for 1000s of cyclists every day. It connects old and new residential neighbourhoods, shopping and office areas.
Denmark consists of 100s of islands, so we are experienced bridge-builders. Especially the architecture firm, Dissing+Weitling, who has a number of bridges on their list of works, large and small. The two biggest in Denmark, the Øresound bridge to Sweden, and the Big Belt Bridge. They also designed the later ‘Bike Snake’ bridge in continuation of this one.
And even though engineers typically dominate the design of bridges through structural necessity (and budget), Dissing+Weitling has a way of synthesising the pragmatic needs with aesthetic elegance. Not least in the case of the Brygge Bridge. It expresses a minimal construction with just the right pinch of ‘shaping’, to give it a typical Danish/Scandinavian feel. Downlights are integrated into the handrails.
If you compare with the ‘Kissing Bridge‘ to the north, you’ll notice the difference between Danish and English design.
The solid ‘spine’ on top of the bikeable and walkable surface integrates the construction. Here, it doubles as a physical divider of bikes and pedestrians.
Stilts carry the stationary parts of the bridge, while the middle part opens for taller ships by pivoting around the pillar in the water. This also houses the mechanics and machinery, directly under the bridge to avoid flooding. The bridge opens only very rarely, though. Both the ferry buses and tourist boats easily clear under the bridge, and busy shipping and industries ended decades ago.
Copenhageners today take the bridge and the connection for granted. But of course, before this bridge, the neighbourhoods, Islands Brygge on the East and Vesterbro on the Westside were not connected. Quite the contrary, they were considered far distanced, geographically as well as mentally. Today somewhere around 18.000 cyclists use the bridge.
It doesn’t happen overnight, but the mental map changes slowly with each new bike connection. So even though Copenhagen is growing by the day, the mental distances are today shorter than 20 years ago.