Westbury Pedestrian Bridge

CLIENT: Johannesburg Development Agency

PROGRAM: Pedestrian bridge

INITIATED: 2014 | COMPLETED: 2016

LOCATION: Westbury, Johannesburg, Gauteng

BUDGET: R16 million

PROFESSIONAL TEAM: 
Architect | Local Studio in joint venture with IYER Urban Design Studio
Engineer | Element
Main contractor | Kingsway Construction

 

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Westbury Pedestrian Bridge comprises a pedestrian bridge with access to a BRT station, an amphitheatre and a park. This project forms part of a broader precinct plan, an NMT network, also conducted by Local Studio in the area. Initial research established that the on-grade crossing between Coronationville and Westbury was extremely dangerous for pedestrians, particularly school children. This design tries to combine a bridge and a public recreational space to encourage usage and general safety. The commission was achieved via a public tender in joint venture with IYER Urban Design Studio.

The architecture of the bridge itself is governed by a need to create a landmark, while promoting the concept of ephemerality. It was very important that the bridge didn't appear to be an extravagance in the community and that it blended in with humility, while still being a point of pride. The resultant design, made up of a pragmatic expression of structural members combined with expanded metal mesh, all painted in a "signal red" colour, resembles the temporary scaffolding bridges built during several highway construction projects in Johannesburg.

While the project is still in construction, the bridge deck has been erected and finished perfectly and the desired ephemerality has been achieved. The northern bridge abutment could have been designed as a more welcoming public space, had the city resolved to increase the space for intervention. Many challenges have been encountered thus far with relation to universal access and stringent requirements calling for three elevators for wheelchair access. Many have also arisen from the haphazard approach to urban management in the city, where Johannesburg transport roads and parks agencies will be required to work together to manage the space. This may impact negatively on its functionality.