onda arquitectura + checa arquitectura design a new footbridge in spain

onda arquitectura + checa arquitectura complete atlantic wave walkway in las palmas, gran canaria

a sturdy urban sculpture with a distinct V-shaped profile that twists and curves effortlessly

the walkway spans the public spaces without any apparent tectonic stress. it presents three spectacular spans of 63 meters without any intermediate support, denoting an unexpected feeling of lightness. moreover, its undulating shape which originally results from site stress avoids existing trees while improving structural performance – allowing a design without expansion joints to take shape. ‘the programmatic requirements for pedestrians, cyclists and accessible passages are resolved with a single and simple infrastructure, avoiding any differentiated elements such as stairs and auxiliary lifts,’ says the team of architects.

the v-profile, meanwhile, came about from a need to lessen the acoustic impact of the freeway below, allowing views of the city while providing natural light all the way. even more, this distinct triangular shape transforms the bridge into a two-dimensional volume at certain angles, creating the illusion of a curved sheet of paper.

the footbridge facing the port of las palmas | images © iwan baan, javier haddad

“the result is a very innovative structural system, an extremely efficient triangular profile shape that is not common in the world of bridge engineering, capable of covering the required curved distances with a large performative program and a minimalist aesthetic” , reveal the architects. see more works by onda arquitectura here, and checa arquitectura here.

walkway as large urban sculpture 5
onda atlántica ends at the cruise ship dock

build a hyper-functional structure inspired by naval engineering designs

with a width of 3 meters and a maximum slope of 6%, the ground level of onda atlántica reaches a maximum height of 7.60 meters above street level, turning into a new viewpoint for visitors townspeople. it also allows a minimum clearance at highway level of 5.50 meters, exceeding up to 6 meters at specific points.

essentially, the architects developed a structural scheme inspired by naval engineering designs – allowing every component of this walkway to have a structural function, with the exception of the handrails. That said, they adopted a system of ribs or frames arranged every 3.2 meters while being attached by 10 to 12 mm steel plates. the 18 pieces that made up the final structure, weighing up to 40 tonnes each, were assembled in a metallurgical workshop in seville and then transported by boat to the site. the bridge was then coated in a three-coat paint with a metallic finish which, depending on the daylight, helps it blend into the urban fabric and provides protection against highly corrosive maritime conditions.

walkway as large urban sculpture 4
crossings intersect at different levels to create a public square

finally, two public spaces have been redesigned to accommodate the landing stages of the footbridge. on one side, a fluid square welcomes all the converging pedestrian traffic, designed with undulating green shapes that can be seen from above like a horizontal plant painting. on the other side, an impassable landscape reproduces a volcanic topography by recovering rocks from the nearby mountain of the isleta.