Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Fourth Bridge and Santiago Calatrava

photos by Nereo Zane
Santiago Calatrava (the Spanish architect who designed Venice's fourth bridge), is quite an accomplished man.
I could compose a big list of the things he's built, but I'll let you google his name instead.
I think you'll be surprised at some of the things you find - many of his bridges are way more extreme than this one. Nevertheless, Calatrava's bridge in Venice is a rather impressive structure. He has incorporated Istrian stone into a fairly minimalist arch of steel and glass
(Istrian stone is a commonly used stone in Venice).

The total length of the bridge is 94 meters.
At the wides point, the bridge is over 9 meters across.
The sweeping arch silhouette is sure to catch people's eye.

The shore area on the train station side during early construction.

One of the unique factors involved with this construction has been the concern that too much weight might cause anchoring points on the shoreline to sink.

Calatrava has received criticism over his bridge's lack of handicap access, while others don't like the style - saying that it doesn't match Venice.

The real question is:

how long will Venice's fourth bridge survive?

After all, the stone Scalzi bridge is the second one in that location, having replaced the first version - which was iron.

A steel bridge was first built at Accademia, it was followed by a wooden one, which was then replaced with another wooden one.

As for the Rialto, well the first span there was a "boat bridge", then three consecutive wood bridges followed (each one being replaced after it collapsed or became unusable), and today's Rialto is a stone version.

Will Calatrava's bridge measure up? Only time will tell.

You can watch the bridge's progress by webcam at:


Mike C said...

What I don't understand is why they have two bridges by the rail station?

Btw, a nice blog you are running here. I'm a photographer who is obsessed with Venice and Italy in general. Much like you are with gondolas. Will be making my third trip to Venice in as many years this February.

Gondola Greg said...

Hi Mike.
Thanks for the comment.
The funny thing about blogging is that you never know who's reading it...or if ANYBODY is reading it!

If you're a photographer, then you know that Venice is truly a "target rich environment". Someone once said "it's hard to take a bad picture in Venice".

Nereo Zane is responsible for a lot of the photos I post- he's amazing. Sean Antonioli and others have furnished some great ones too.

As for the bridge issue, it does seem odd that two of the four bridges across the Grand Canal are so close to each other on one shore.
I'm guessing that a lot of people need to get from the train station to Piazzale Roma (or vice-versa) with luggage, and often in a hurry.
It may not seem like a chore to follow along the canal to the Scalzi Bridge and then make it to the train station, but if enough people raised a big fuss - it must be a problem.
I've never had to make the trek myself.
I wonder if this has to do with cruise ship passengers, who arrive by train and board their ships in Venice.

By the way, when you go in Feb. be sure to visit Bacino Orseolo with your camera. If you search my blog, you'll see a number of images taken there. It's the only place you can see that many gondolas jammed into one place.

And of course, if you've got some images you want to submit, I might like to post a few up.

Have a great day!

Mike C said...

Thanks for the tip. I'll be sure to check it out. The thing about Venice is that it's a blessing and a curse that you "can't take a bad picture". That's why I'm working on a project to document the not so obvious about Venice. I came across your blog while researching about Gilberto Penzo. I stumbled upon his shop last May and was absolutely amazed with his work and historic preservation efforts.

Mike C said...

Oh, as for images, I can email a few you might like.

Gondola Greg said...

Gilberto Penzo is incredible.
I have almost all of his books, and have learned so much from him.

If you need to reach me via e-mail, I'm at greg@gondola.com

Anonymous said...

Greg had it right in guessing that part of the reason is the relative proximity of the train station (Ferrovia) to Piazzale Roma. They are physically close together, but currently separated by the need to cross three bridges: the very large Scalzi bridge across the Canal Grande and two smaller bridges across smaller rios.

The importance of Piazalle Roma is that it is the last place that land vehicles can reach Venice. The bus terminal is there. Anyone coming by auto, bus, or from the airport passes through Piazalle Roma and must cross those three bridges to get into the busy part of Venice. Just hoofed it today with a backpack and two 40 pound bags - something I've done many times - not a lot of fun.

A huge amount of foot traffic follows that route and the new bridge will make that travel very much easier.

As a point of reference, the Ferrovia is on the business / tourism side of the Canal Grande, and may or not be part of the equation for the new bridge. Business definitely is, and the quicker one can get the visitors, travelers, and tourists to that side of the canal, the better.

Anonymous said...

Another feature of the new bridge makes it unique from the others. It wasn't visible in the pictures that Greg published, but is very beautiful.

The other bridges across the Canal Grande have straightforward entrances. The bottom steps flare out to the sides a bit, but not a lot. The new bridge has double levels on each end. One can walk straight onto it from the Piazalle Roma or from the fundamenta near the train station. Or, one can take a 180 degree turn on either end of the bridge and walk down a few more steps to other intersecting walkways. These steps that wrap around give a flowing water appearance to the structure of the bridge, great function with absolute beauty.