When Beijing-based practice DnA Design and Architecture was tapped to renovate an old stone masonry bridge in Zhejiang, China, founding architect Xu Tiantian saw it as an opportunity to create a transformative and culturally significant gathering space for the public. Spanning the Songyin River, the updated Shimen Bridge now features a beautiful timber addition with built-in seating, planters, and even a centrally located square with trees. Here, villagers are encouraged to come and enjoy their surroundings and the historic bridge in an entirely new light.
Built of stone masonry in the 1950s, the arch bridge over the Songyin River connects the two villages of Shimen and Shimenyu. Although it was originally constructed to accommodate vehicular traffic, the local government has rerouted traffic and designated the bridge crossing as a pedestrian-friendly space shared with bicyclists and scooters. To make the bridge more attractive to villagers, DnA Design and Architecture Studio added a series of gabled timber elements. Part of the structure is covered with a roof while other sections are left open to the elements.
“With the renovation and upgrading of the bridge, Xu Tiantian designed a social location that unites the two previously connected villages from a cultural perspective,” wrote DnA Design and Architecture Studio. “What has consequently been created is a roofed-over bridge space that calls to mind the historic Wind and Rain Bridge. The cultural-historically relevant dam system, which has regulated the waters of the Songyin River for 1500 years as part of a larger system, is situated in the river.”
Related: Unusual Dutch bridge embraces flooding in a thought-provoking way
The Shimen Bridge is designed for enjoyment year-round and at all hours. At night, embedded lights turn on and transform the bridge into a beautiful glowing icon seen from across the water. The bridge project was completed last year.
Images by Ziling, Wang; Dan, Han