Bridges, huh? The concept is so simple: a platform to get from one place to another. Yet these structures have a beauty that goes beyond what can be achieved with something more (apparently) complex, such as a building.
And it all comes back to that simplicity. The most straightforward bridges are little more than a plank of wood with a rope for a handle – and they’re no less beautiful for their frankness. But the most complex bridges are feats of engineering, art, and imagination and which seem to be worlds unto themselves.
A bridge is more than a physical structure: it is a method of communication, a symbol of progress and connection between disparate places. Bridges are identity-building, as in the 16th-century bridge in Mostar, after which the town is named: Stari Most, old bridge. The enormous structure was destroyed by Croatian forces during the Croat–Bosniak War in the 1990s and rebuilt as a replica a few years later, using traditional methods and local materials but through an international co-operation .
While it’s easy to take bridges for granted and use them just as a means of getting from one side to another or as a viewing point to see something else, travelers in the know take time to appreciate the bridges they pass for the work and wonder that went into them. But as the Stari Most at Mostar shows, a bridge is always political and tells a story that may not be obvious at first glance.
The people at 911Metallurgist have gone even further and identified a handful of bridges that never even materialized – but which tell of the circumstances in which their construction was vetoed. They’ve gone so far as to create stunning new images of how these bridges might have looked. And in each case the answer is: stunning.
The EuroRoute Bridge, for example, which was proposed as an alternative to the Channel Tunnel before it was built, is still not quite matched by any bridge in the world today. It looks like it belongs off the coast of Dubai rather than ribboned between England and France.
It would have been more than a bridge, really: a platform leading out across the sea to an artificial island of shops, hotels, and rest points, sitting on top of a road that spiraled down into the sea before resurfacing at an identical island near to the opposite coast.
The Kerch Strait Bridge between Crimea and Russia is a history lesson in itself. First dreamt up by imperial-era Russia as a means of strengthening connections to Asia, the British, too, had their eye on creating a pathway to their colonies in India. Neither power succeeded, and the next person to try was Hitler’s architect, Albert Speer; when the Russians and the Germans fell out, the project fell through.
The illustration is of Boris Konstantinov’s post-war design, on which work began before being cancelled by Stalin as money ran short. So when you visit Krimsky Bridge today, take a deep breath before you cross – and think about what might have been!