A new circular bridge in Uruguay represents "a lagoon within a lagoon" according to the architect Rafael Viñoly. The bridge, which stretches across Laguna Garzón between the cities of Rocha and Maldonado on the southern coast of Uruguay, replaces a traditional raft crossing. The circular structure encourages traffic to slow down and allows drivers and pedestrians to take in the view as they cross.
“The concept of the Puente Laguna Garzon was to transform a traditional vehicular crossing into an event that reduces the speed of the cars, to provide an opportunity to enjoy panoramic views to an amazing landscape, and at the same time create a pedestrian place in the centre,” says Viñoly, the New York-based Uruguayan architect.
The two lanes of traffic split as they enter the circular portion of the bridge and are expected to carry 1,000 cars per day across the lagoon. Pedestrian walkways are located on both sides of the traffic lanes, encouraging tourists to use the bridge for recreational purposes.
The bridge project was funded by Eduardo Constantini, a developer who is responsible for a tourist development on the Rocha side of the bridge.
“It is an iconic architectural piece that will be a catalytic factor in driving the development of Rocha’s coastline, especially protected to preserve direct contact with nature. Just 35 percent of the stretch between the two lagoons can be developed and 50 percent must be devoted to green areas,” said Costantini.
Despite these environmental safeguards, according to La Nacion, the construction was met with resistance by local and environmental groups.