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Inca Jewels, Piñatas Inspire Peruvian Bridge

Aerial view rendering of the pedestrian brdige connecting miraflores and Barranco in Peru, displaying several meeting points where people can gather
The pedestrian bridge connecting Miraflores and Barranco in Peru will have several meeting points where people can gather. OOIIO Architecture

A pedestrian bridge has been designed to connect two districts in Lima, Peru, that are currently separated by an immense gap in the landscape.

May 14, 2013—In the Peruvian capital of Lima, a deep natural depression in the landscape creates a barrier between the city’s two main districts—Miraflores and Barranco. A road known as the Bajada de Armendariz passes through the gully on its descent to the Pacific Ocean, but the pedestrian trails on either side end at the edge of the steep cliffs. To encourage travel between the districts, a striking pedestrian bridge has been designed not only to traverse the gap but also to serve as an urban park that will give people a place to gather for events or simply enjoy the scenery.

The bridge linking Miraflores and Barranco was designed by OOIIO Architecture, which is based in Madrid, Spain. Although the firm had never designed a bridge before, its leaders had wanted to expand into the Latin American market, Peru in particular. So when it learned about Lima’s international design competition for a bridge over the Bajada de Armendariz, the firm developed a proposal, said Joaquín Millán, the founder and director of OOIIO Architecture, in response to written questions from Civil Engineering online. 

The architects of the bridge drew inspiration from Peru's mining industry, Inca jewels, and piñatas

The architects of the bridge drew inspiration from Peru's mining
industry, Inca jewels, and piñatas. OOIIO Architecture

Lima officials sought a bridge design that would encourage residents and visitors to journey between the two districts. Miraflores is a wealthy area replete with retail outlets and colorful parks, whereas Barranco is more bohemian and is home to many musicians, artists, and designers. To that end, OOIIO Architecture developed what it describes as not just a bridge but also an “open-air building,” a structure offering eye-catching aesthetics and expansive decks for large gatherings, cultural events, and impromptu displays of art. The unconventional concept earned the firm its first bridge project.

Having a somewhat spiky appearance, the bridge’s design was inspired by Peru’s mining industry—one of the country’s largest economic engines—and the geometry of Inca jewels. As the design developed, the architects were also influenced by the shape of a traditional nine-pointed piñata. These decorated vessels are popular in Latin countries, particularly around Christmas and for birthdays. In recalling those forms, the bridge will have three types of surfaces shaped like spikes, each serving a different function along the structure: long horizontal spikes that form the decks for walking and cycling, sloped spikes for gardens, and vertical spikes for shading as people relax and enjoy cafés and other amenities along the structure. “The spikes are [what] give all the personality to the project,” Millán said.

Rendering, displaying the crossing that will traverse a deep natural depression in the landscape that separates the two districts of Peru

The crossing will traverse a deep natural depression in the
landscape that separates the two districts of Peru. OOIIO

The bridge will be irregular in shape, “legs” shooting off in every direction to connect existing pedestrian paths and streets at various levels to the crossing. That said, the bridge will extend roughly 121 m across the gully. To encourage people to linger, the bridge will, as mentioned above, have informal amphitheaters for amateur performances and several meeting areas, including a central point offering commanding views of the Pacific and the surrounding cityscape. “The bridge center [provides] a great opportunity for generating an urban meeting point,” Millán said. “You will see it from a lot of areas, and you can see everything from there. It is [a] perfect [place] to watch and be watched.”

The bridge will be constructed of steel clad in recycled timber, a material chosen for its no-fuss appearance. “We would like this bridge to become a comfortable urban object that welcomes Lima inhabitants and tourists to cross it or to stop on it,” explained Millán, who is confident that the structure will become a landmark and be ideal for taking pictures, watching people, or lying under the sun.

The project is under design development, and OOIIO Architecture is working with Lima officials to develop plans for such details as the number and location of piers. Engineers from both Spain and Peru also are involved in developing the concept. If the designs are finalized and construction goes as planned, the bridge could be completed as early as 2016.



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