ArgumentNo. 13/2021

Inhabited Bridges. Infrastructure and Architecture

  • / PhD. stud. arch., “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest, RO


Inhabited bridges are a reality which was found and greatly appreciated during many centuries in Western Europe, especially during the Middle Ages. Starting with the 12th century until the 18th century, these bridges had an important role in the urban areas in which they were built, not only because they were strategic paths over a watercourse, but also for the development of economic activities and social cohesion.

A bridge is primarily an infrastructure work, but with the increase in space requirements in cities limited by their fortifications, it has exceeded its purely transportation purposes, becoming an architectural object. We can talk of an interconnection between architecture and infrastructure at the most primary level. Today, bridges famous for their historical charm, such as Old London Bridge, Ponte Vecchio or the medieval bridges over the Seine were in their time multifunctional spaces in those cities. As housing often associated its production and commercial spaces, the bridge became true commercial promenades and places for social interaction for local communities. This multifunctionality has transformed the simple transportation structures into real architectural forms, highly adaptive and even resilient.

This study aims to determine the versatility of the bridge as a complex space, having all the attributes we are discussing today regarding a future architectural work. These bridges are hybrid and adaptable structures that can combine multiple functions and can discuss the possibility of diversity. The research starts with identifying the basic factors which caused their emergence but also their downfall, ending with the utopian attempts of the architects of the last century to bring the inhabited bridges back to our modern society.

Keywords: inhabited bridges, infrastructure, hybrid space, multifunctional structure, megastructure

Published in Argument 13/