The Nature Conservation Agency of Latvia paired up with Bee Breeders to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Gauja National Park - the country's largest national park at 90,000 hectares - by challenging architects and designers with submitting proposals for a footbridge marking the park's entry. The footbridge is intended to serve as an architectural landmark that adds to the park's existing collection of 500 cultural and historical monuments, including medieval castles and towns.
The competition called for a footbridge which can span an existing roadway, at an elevation high enough to allow cars and trucks to pass below. The submissions responded with an extensive array of design concepts. Several sought means of introducing verticality into the design to offer viewing platforms. Others focused on drawing from natural forms or elements, such as leaves, trees, and hills. A broad range of material and structural concepts were tested, including cable-supported decks, simple horizontal slabs, and systems supported by trusses.
The jury members sought solutions with structural integrity, those that could offer pedestrians unique opportunities for viewing, as well as those with the potential to become a symbolic new entry and exit point for visitors traveling through the park by vehicle. Sustainable and minimally invasive proposals were looked highly upon. When designing a pedestrian bridge, architects often focus on complex formal solutions to solve the rather simple problem of spanning a gap to connect point A with point B. The jury felt strongly that the most successful forms were those that also offered experiential new ways of discovering the park.
Bee Breeders thanks all designers that took part in this design ideas competition. The quality of the imagery and structural concepts was high. And many of the proposals submitted have the capacity to offer Gauja Park the new architectural landmark it deserves.