Diploma 2013: “THROUGH THE FOREST OF COLUMNS" by Guðrún Jóna Arinbjarnardóttir


Student: Guðrún Jóna Arinbjarnardóttir 
Tutors: APP Espen Folgerø,  DAV Vibeke Jensen
The theme of this diploma project is blindspots created by infrastructure. There are places in Bergen where vital infrastructural objects like bridges and tunnels generate leftover spaces by cutting through – and effectively creating a division in – the urban fabric. These blindspots function as psychological and physical barriers and create spatial conflict between the infrastructure and inhabitants.
This project focuses on redefining and altering uncanny territory surrounding the imposing structure of a bridge named Puddefjord-bridge, positioned south of the city centre of Bergen. The bridge serves its purpose well as part of the Bergen transportation infrastructure, and in fact plays a vital role in connecting the south-western and north-eastern parts of Bergen. It stretches across a strait called Damsgårdssundet, 30m above the water surface, connecting the old industrial neighborhood Møhlenpris – on the city centre side – to Gyldenpris and Laksevåg on the other. The structure dwarfs its immediate urban surroundings and creates blindspots near and under its own structure, separating the areas west and east of the bridge on both banks as well as disconnecting human inhabitants from the waterfront.
The aim of the architectural response is to intersect the existing bridge structure with a web of pedestrian paths to facilitate interconnections between neighborhoods; and to introduce new rhythms to the urban fabric while maintaining a symbiotic relationship between the bridge structure and the architectural response. Instead of participating in the process of further speeding up the experience of the world – the existing bridge – the project’s intent is to slow down experience, halt time and to defend the natural slowness and diversity of experience.

What is time? If no one asks me, I know; if I want to explain it to a questioner, I do not know... We measure times. But how can we measure what does not exist? The past is no longer, the future is not yet. And what of the present? The present has not duration...In order that we may compare a short and long syllable, both must have died away. Thus I do not measure the syllables themselves, but the images of the two tones in my memory... Thus when I measure time, I measure impressions, modifications of consciousness.”
-Saint Augustin, Time duration and perception
The new construction is merged into the rough concrete structure of the existing bridge like an endosymbiont – an organism living with another organism – connecting the human scale to the infrastructural scale. The steel spine of the construction connects to the existing columns and thin steel ribs stick out of the spine forming support for the floor of the path while also bending up to support a handrail and in some places walls of shelter. The floor is composed of wooden planks that extend upwards along the edges to form a handrail, providing people with a soft and warm feeling of touch when holding it. In some places along the path the materials used in the handrail and floor differ, as a sign of warning and to get people to slow down, hear and feel the different spatial qualities the construction provides and the area has to offer.
The new bicycle and pedestrian paths slither through the forest of columns under the massive Puddefjord-bridge, facilitating interconnections between neighborhoods and separating pedestrians from the noisy traffic on top of the bridge, which provides shelter from rain, snow and pollution with its decking. The paths’ limbs stretch into the neighborhoods in an inviting gesture, drawing people into this unknown and hidden territory of infrastructural blindspots, revealing and shedding light on a sequence of hidden treasures along the way with the aim of creating multi-sensory experiences for those that move along them.
“Every touching experience of architecture is multi-sensory; qualities of matter, space, and scale are measured equally by the eye, ear, nose, skin, tongue, skeleton and muscle. Architecture involves seven realms of sensory experience which interact and infuse each other.”
-Juhani Pallasmaa, Questions of perception,
An architecture of the seven senses, p.30 
All photos by: Guðrún Jóna Arinbjarnardóttir 

Introduction to the site and research part of my project

The architectural response. The main model in the scale 1:200, showing the pedestrian path slithering through the forest of columns underneath the existing bridge. Drawings in the scales 1:1000 and 1:200 along with photos and diagrams showing how the pedestrian bridge creates connections between neighborhoods in the area. 

Detail models in the scale 1:1, 1:20, 1:50 and 1:100, showing the bridge structure and details in different locations along the pedestrian path. The main model of the site and drawings in the back.

Detail models in the scales; 1:20, 1:50 and 1:100, showing the concept development, the bridge structure and details in different locations along the pedestrian path. The main model of the site and the research part of the project in the back. 

The architectural response. The main model in the scale of 1:200, showing the pedestrian path slithering through the forest of columns underneath the existing bridge. Drawings in the scale 1:1000 and 1:200, showing how the bridge is connecting the neighborhoods in the area.