In Hoek van Holland, near the Maeslant barrier, which is part of the Delta Works, lies the Oranjebonnenpolder recreational area. To connect a network of paths with recreational routes along the Nieuwe Waterweg ship canal, a new railway overpass has been built for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.
The typology of the bridge harks back to the 19th-century ‘covered bridges’ of east-coast rural America. These were covered timber structures shaped like a stable so that horses would cross ‘voluntarily’ and not take fright at the wild water or thundering locomotives below. A practical, illusionary invention that also offered a practical solution for this project.
The bridge has a hybrid construction, consisting of an inflected concrete road and a preserved timber superstructure of four cross-laminated portal frames. Together they form a sturdy structure with an archetypical silhouette. To heighten the abstract effect, the timber facade elements were coated with graphite paint and the saddleback roof covered with patinated zinc. These tactile material properties give the bridge a subtle sparkle in the landscape according to the position of the sun. Roof, portal frames and facade sections were all prefabricated and then assembled at the base of the embankment so that the metro line could continue to operate throughout the construction period. The superstructure was placed over the road surface in one go by specialist movers.
Because the covered bridge is positioned at the highest point of the embankment, its silhouette soars above the horizon, providing the flat, large-scale industrial landscape with a striking landmark that can be recognized from far and wide.