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.
3 February, 2022
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.
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.
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.
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.
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