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Bridges of the Turia, Valencia

An Aesthetic Assessment 11th October 2012

Group 6
William Thurston Andrey Smirnov Sophia Zeppenfeld



The bridge creates a strong sense of rhythm with the repetition of certain elements. These include the arches, the triangular-section abutments with pyramidal tops , the upturned triangular form on the bridge side above each abutment, and the small ornamentation on the bridge wall above each keystone.

Even small details, such as the drain opening coming out of the bridge side, and the small ornamentation on the bridge wall, both positioned exactly above the keystone of each arch, adds to the sense of rhythm.

The upturned triangular designs on the bridge sides above each abutment counter the general form of the bridge, and give it a much lighter feel. These elements also counter the straight lines found in most of the bridges design with their accentuated curved sides.

The bridge fits well in its environment, using colours and styles which match the designs of the walls either side of the river. It also matches well with the floor however, it must be remembered that this bridge was designed to traverse a river and not a solid floor.

The bridge currently accommodates six lanes of traffic, which is far more than it would have done when it was designed. To achieve this, an extension of the bridge was required.

Under the arches, it can be seen that the colour and age of the material changes. This is where the original bridge ends, and the more recent extension begins. One faade of the bridge was removed and retained, and then replaced on the external face after the widening of the arches.

Here you can see the original faade of the bridge, which has been stuck onto the more modern extension of the arches, giving a mismatch of colour and texture in some parts of the design.



Classical Form
The bridge has a classic gothic style. The arches are relatively wide

and shallow, and are raised high on triangular buttresses, designed to better break the water and reduce damage. The themes are simple and ornamentation is much reduced compared to the Puente del Real.

The bridge has a similar rhythm to the Puente del Real, but a much simpler one. It is emphasised by the arches, triangular buttresses, and repeated post elements in the balustrade.

Colour and Texture

The colour of the bridge matches well with the surrounding bed of the Turia (although it was not designed to be seen over land). However, weathering in the bridge over time has brought out different colours and textures in the bridge, such as the black undersides of the arches.

Fitness for Purpose

The bridge was designed for a time where there was much less traffic, and cars didnt exist at all hence the narrow two-lane road on top. It is testament to the structure that it can still withstand the loads required today.

The only redevelopment carried out on the bridge in modern times is the addition of a surfaced, two-lane road. The balustrades have remained, however, and allow the bridge to retain its simple gothic rhythm.



New Materials
The use of new, much stronger materials like steel and concrete means that far less structural material is now required. The form of the bridge therefore appears much more lightweight.

Structural Form
The new lightweight structure means that forms are now more directly linked to the forces involved, and the structural scheme of the bridge is instantly more apparent. The design of the bridge seems very much linked to its purpose.

The rhythm created by the slender steel columns and triangular concrete buttresses harks back to that created by simple arches in the bridges of old. However, there are now many more of these elements, and their form is much smaller and less directly linked with the bridges form.

Arched Forms
Arches are used in the ribbing of the structure on the underside of the concrete deck. This alludes back to the designs of bridges in the past, but in this instance the arches are used for support along the width of the bridge and not lengthways along its span.

Design from Below

What is very apparent about this new style of modern bridge, which contrasts strongly with the styles of old, is that this bridge was designed to be viewed and appreciated from below. Much of the detail is found underneath, and in fact the ornamentation on the top deck is comparatively sparse.

New materials and forms allow much more intricate forms and rhythms to be created by elements that previously had to be simple, such as a balustrade walls. These are now full of tiny steel forms, giving a much more complex and repetitive rhythm that was ever seen in bridges before.

Materials and Textures

Now that more different and varied materials are used in the design of the bridge, their colours and materials contrast hugely and provide much more contrast in forms across different parts of the bridge. This is very different to the homogenous stone bridges of previous eras.

Separated Spans
One final way in which this bridge varies so much from the design of old style bridges is the way in which the two spans are totally separated, allowing the formation of a new architectural space in the centre, which can be enjoyed from below.



The bridge straight away forfeits the sense of symmetry found in almost all bridges, firstly by having only one main arch on one side, and secondly by leaning this arch quite substantially out of the vertical plane. This straight away provides a strong focal point.

Simple Elements
The focal point created by the arch is not distracted from greatly when passing over the top of the bridge, as the other elements used are all very simple, and the cream white colours used give a sense of union to these elements.

Complex Structural Scheme

It is by no means immediately apparent how the structural scheme of the bridge works it is hard to understand how the sloping arch can support the bridge in equilibrium. Indeed, it is only by the decks cross-section also being asymmetrical that the system is brought into structural balance.

View from Below

This bridge was again designed very much with the view from below in mind. The underside has a smooth, curved form, and the visible steel ribs at the sides give a sense of rhythm to the structure. This ribs also give the bridge a more lightweight feel, both directly by removing structural mass, but also by drawing the eye along the length and away from the vertical.

Contrast with Buildings

The buildings behind provide a strong contrast to the bridges form. They are angular, boxy and grey, whereas the bridge has a curved, lightweight and bright white form.

Riverbed Location
Unlike the contrast with the building behind, the bridge fits very well into its location in the riverbed. The riverbed area below the bridge was designed in the same project to fit with the bridge, with a smooth grey floor and angular concrete elements which work with and accentuate some of the features of the bridge above.

Holistic Design
The whole area underneath and around the bridge has been designed using the same colours, lines, and schemes. Even the metro station underneath the riverbed there, Alameda, has entrances that fit well with the design of the bridge. The windows down into the station in the floor of the Turia are also shaped to repeat and accentuate the styles of the bridge above.

Old-Style Features
Some elements of the bridge hark back to older bridges on the Turia. The triangular buttresses remind the viewer of those used in the much older Puente del Real and Puente de San Jos. Despite the fact that this triangular form is used to break up the water, no water was ever planned to flow beneath this bridge it is simply a small fusion of new with old.