This posting takes as it’s start the musings of a regular reader / commenter, “Starkive”, with a musing on the possibility of covering / incorporating the proposed overpass across the Basin Reserve with…  


…no, not ants, but with something:

As it happens I am a cricket tragic and – to the extent that being an Auckland supporter will allow – a Basin lover. I have often slumped on the grassy bank and plotted how much better the ground could be while still remaining the Basin. Most of those plots involve the northern end of the ground where a new structure between the Vance stand and the embankment could house decent food and toilet facilities, provide for a somewhat larger crowd and break up the northerly. It does seem to me that the right design (!) could exploit opportunities provided by a flyover structure.

So, while I am dead against a high flying overpass for the purposes of traffic, let’s just muse for a moment that it may go ahead. Our Worship the Mayor, has after all made mention that the motorway overpass may be able to be partially disguised with a building, or buildings.  


Buildings on bridges have been done before, and hold a certain romantic vision for some reason that I can’t quite put my finger on, but not, as far as I know, buildings on the side of a motorway. Yes, we know, it’s not officially a motorway, but to be honest, its not just a quiet suburban street either.

It’s State Highway No 1 and holds a massive amount of traffic intent on getting as fast as possible to the other side of the city. It’ll be at least 2 lanes wide, no stopping anywhere along the overpass route, and so will generate a fair bit of noise and car fumes. Not the sort of place that you might want to carefully dawdle and pick up some touristy knick-knacks, such as the Pulteney Bridge in Bath.  


and  the Ponte Vecchio in Florence,


I’m picking that trying to find a building use that doesn’t mind having roaring petrolheads and diesel trucks running behind their doors or above/below their floorboards might be a little in short supply. But searching around the internet reveals that, as always, some things have been done before.


This particular number is a building by Odile Decq, secreted below a motorway in France. And also in France, there is a much older example in Britanny, with a more sedate pedestrian-oriented bridge over a weir on a quiet babbling river. 


There’s some interesting things shown in the fantastic BLDG BLOG, in a posting about living in Dams, and a chapter Chapels on Bridgesfrom a book on Church Lore by William Andrews.


with some great pictures and story behind the original London Bridge – inhabited for centuries until it all fell down / was demolished. Apparently the building of bridges in bygone times was regarded as a religious duty, 

“It was very usual,” says Leland, “in greater brydges to build chappells in which they did pray for the soules of their founders.”There were other reasons for erecting chapels, one being for the place of residence for the priests to solicit alms from all who passed over the bridge, whether walking or riding, to keep it in repair. Some were built for sheltering benighted travellers, having crypts where rest and refreshment might be obtained. In these chapels, the wayfarer could pray for protection on his journey, and return thanks for safety after his undertaking had been completed. Travelling, in mediæval times, was beset with trial and hardship on every side. 


One of the side effects of the great amount of traffic on London Bridge would of course have been the amount of horse dung, which I presume just got turned to dust or else the dung was simply flung over the side. Possibly one of the reasons that the Save the Basin are so dead against the proposal.

There are proposals for structures that may be more fantasy than fantastic, in a scheme by Koolhaas for the Emirate of Ras al Khaimah high in the mountains in the Arab Emirates,


or even the proposals for an inhabited bridge structure by architects Cartwright Pickard, but there are also still inhabited structures such as this one in Kramerbrucke in Germany,  


or this housing structure looking very sinuous and pedestrian-oriented in Entrepotbrug in the Netherlands:  


Lastly though we should look to the future, with this proposal in Hamburg by architect Hadi Teherani, where 5 stories of living accommodation span across the Elbe, (but no motorway):


and of course there is virtually nothing today that Zaha Hadid hasn’t done, and here she is in Spain with a so-called Inhabited bridge across the river in Zaragoza:


of which there are many, many, fantastic photos available here and here. Food for thought, no doubt, but also perhaps some indication that if you want to have a bridge with buildings, then combining it with a motorway may not work so well as when you combine it with shopping and residential.

My fervent wish therefore, is that if it should come to this – of building a bridge across the Basin – that we hold an international competition for ideas and proposals, and invite some people to contribute – such as Hadid and Calatrava. This is far too important to be left to the likes of the NZTA.