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Drift: How one pedestrian bridge enhances connectivity and improves neighbourhood

Designed by Volkan Alkanoglu, Drift is created to bridge a physical divide – a creek – between two halves of one neighbourhood and their respective park systems.

Drift: How one pedestrian bridge enhances connectivity and improves neighbourhood

Designed by Volkan Alkanoglu, Drift is created to bridge a physical divide – a creek – between two halves of one neighbourhood and their respective park systems.

In the short span of 50 years, Singapore has gone from a city filled with slums and choked with congestion to a clean, modern metropolis with world-class public infrastructure. Its success stems from long-term urban planning that involved large scale developments. These efforts in turn attracted foreign investments and millions of international tourists every year pre-COVID-19. But perhaps it’s time this small but efficient city state redirects its focus to improving community well-being not through grand gestures, but small actions that allow people to appreciate and find contentment within their neighbourhoods.

Pedestrian bridge by Volkan Alkanoglu
Photography by Ignition Arts

The Drift, a timber and steel pedestrian bridge in Texas, USA, is an innovative example of plug-and-play urbanism that we can learn from. Designed by Volkan Alkanoglu and fabricated off-site with an installation time of just a few hours, Drift is a community-driven, site-specific project created to bridge a physical divide – a creek – between two halves of one neighbourhood and their respective park systems. Historically, there had been no place to cross the 80-foot-wide culvert for seven blocks.

Pedestrian bridge by Volkan Alkanoglu
Photography by Ignition Arts

The site and its immediate surroundings that change depending on the season informed Alkanoglu’s design and material palette. The result is a 62-foot-long bridge made of steel armature and timber planks that resembles a smooth, curving branch of driftwood or a bowed bentwood splint, arching over the creek.

Pedestrian bridge by Volkan Alkanoglu
Photography by Peter Molick

From other angles, it refers loosely to the hull of a ship, with a convex underbelly and a concave hull containing a pathway, benches, and railings. Uniquely, these elements are all built into a single form, where irregular undulations and curves are engineered for sitting and support. This innovation also draws inspiration from Charles Eames’ leg splint, “where every function occurs within a single figure,” explains Alkanoglu. Embedding the benches was a means of placemaking for Alkanoglu. With them, Drift becomes public art and a space for contemplation, recreation, and communing, rather than just a thruway or wayfinding mechanism.

Drift pedestrian bridge by Volkan Alkanoglu
Photography by Peter Molick

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