Saturday, June 14, 2008

Strumming the bridge harp

For those who just can't wait for its June 25 inauguration, here is a sneak preview of the Bridge of Strings. I first knew something was up when I stood gaping at this h-u-g-e crane at the entrance to downtown Jerusalem early last year. It was rolling into place on giant treads and spreading its two arms.
Over several months sections of bridge appeared on the ground. They were made in Padua, Italy and shipped to Haifa port. Then at midnight one night the traffic was blocked and with great fanfare the sections were lifted over the road onto temporary supports.
Spanish architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava had to work with many constraints, one of which you can see below. The bridge has to curve in order to get between the existing buildings.
And if you click and enlarge this photo you can see the man covering the bridge's eastern embankment with compulsory Jerusalem stone. (Since the early 20th century the law requires every building in the city to be built of, or at least faced with, Jerusalem stone.)

To quote an excellent article, "To Draw A Bridge" (see it here)--

"Calatrava . . . began by considering the constraints of the situation in Jerusalem: a tram line that needed to cut an S-shaped path from Jaffa Road to Theodor Herzl Boulevard, rising above a dense intersection and clearing the way for a public plaza beneath. The city engineer wanted to make life easier for pedestrians and also give some much needed character and panache to a congested urban entanglement through which much of the traffic arriving into the city passes. Building in Jerusalem means using Jerusalem stone, and Calatrava knew that he would need to balance the sturdy honey-colored rock with more modern touches of fluid steel and glass. He wanted to create something that would seem to fly -- its span soaring over the tops of the cars -- and hoped the structure would serve the city as a gate and not another wall."

Recently the tall mast was raised and the cables attached. But the bridge is still not suspended. Much work remains to be done. And the rails for the tram are nowhere near completed.
Calatrava was inspired to create something resembling the harp which David played while singing his psalms. The Bridge of Strings will be the first train-carrying curved suspension bridge in the world. As with everything in the Middle East, we just need patience.

9 comments:

Louis la Vache said...

Dina, thank you for posting this. "Louis" is fascinated by the bridge harp - he wishes he could come see it!

"Louis" thanks you for your comment on "Louis's" Flag Day post. Most people DON'T know there are multiple verses to the Star Spangled Banner. You were by no means alone!

"Louis" spotted Alex at the San Bruno cemetery, looking lost. "Louis" asked if he might help. It was serendipity that he was looking for Admiral Nimitz's grave - and "Louis" had come to the cemetery specifically to visit the graves of the four Admirals and their wives.

Palm Axis said...

Beautiful! Lovely to see your city choose a design that enhances the skyline rather then going for something that is purely functional. I was unaware about the required use of locally quarried stone but it makes sense.

Michelle said...

That's amazing Dina and with an eye to preserve and respect the past. Here stuff just gets torn down and ugly stuff replaces it..

Kris McCracken said...

I am intrigued as to the logic behind forcing people to use Jerusalem stone. Is it a matter of guaranteeing a local industry (a subsidy of sorts)? Alternatively, maybe there is something unique as to the look or feel of the stone that means the mix and match of different types would look peculiar? Or perhaps again there is some sort of religious or cultural significance to Jerusalem stone that I am not aware of?

MEDITERRANEAN KIWI said...

sometimes technology leaves you awestruck - i find it all just too much for my brain when i see how constructive and at the same time destructive man can be...

fishing guy said...

Dina: Nicely captured and a very incicive post. I want to see it when completed.

Suzi-k said...

what a fascinating post Dina, I look forward to seeing the finished thing one day.... and the one above, about the stone, is so interesting too.

Kay said...

Oh wow! That's really quite beautiful.

Liz said...

Gosh, a train-carrying curved suspension bridge! We have some similar - with a sort of sail - but much much smaller bridges like that in Swansea.