Grimshaw, in partnership with Eiffage, Ingerpop, ppa.architecture, ATP, and Quartier Lumières, has won a competition to design the Rapas pedestrian bridge in Toulouse in the south of France. The bridge is one of two bridges that will serve to better connect pedestrians and cyclists to the rejuvenated Ile de Ramier, the new “green lung” for the city within the river Garonne.
In 2019, Toulouse was selected by the European Union’s Program for Environment and Climate Action (LIFE), an initiative that supports environmental, nature conservation, and climate action projects throughout the EU, to establish 10 hectares of green spaces on the northern part of Ile de Ramier. Called LIFE Green Heart, the project aims to revegetate and develop the biodiversity of the island as a means of combating climate change.
Working to link the city with this transforming, verdant space, the bridge will connect to the north of the island from the Fer à Cheval quarter and span approximately 525 feet across the river. On the city side, the bridge will link directly to the embankment with access to the river promenade and the city cycle route. It will also connect to the light rail station Avenue du Muret - Marcel Cavaillé. On the island side, the bridge is guided by the levels of the land, with a limited impact on the landscape. The structure descends into the park via a 360-degree sloping concrete ramp and stairway designed to mitigate potential flooding from the river.
The design is defined by a 197-foot inverted V-shaped steel mast that supports the cable-stayed bridge. The structure acts as a gateway to the island and enables the bridge to provide uninterrupted views of the old town to the north and the Pyrenees mountain range to the south. This functional simplicity is reflected in the material selection of the bridge as well. The steel mast supports a 16-foot-wide metal deck and balustrade. At night, lighting along the bridge and mast creates a safe, accessible passage for users and highlights the route within its surrounding natural and urban context.
Construction of the Rapas bridge is set to begin in July 2022 and will be the first of two bridges created. It is set to act as a catalyst to the future redevelopment of the north of Ile de Ramier, which includes the redesign of the former Parc des Exposition site and the creation of pedestrian, car-free access to the existing Art Deco Nakache swimming pool and the stadium.
“We are delighted to be collaborating on the design of Rapas pedestrian bridge,” said Alice Barrois, Associate Principal with Grimshaw and architect lead for the project, “and to be part of the renewal of Ile de Ramier as the centre for leisure, sports and reconnection with biodiversity in the city. Our intent is for the bridge to become immediately part of the rich architectural character of Toulouse and contribute to connecting the wonderful spaces across the Ile de Ramier and the city centre through active travel.”
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