November 07, 2004
Modern structures

Michael Jennings has another of his big set piece postings up at Samizdata, about his recent trip to Spain and Portugal. He is a container spotter, it turns out. He includes a most useful map.

Two things caught my eye. First was this observation about recent architectural trends:

(Yes, okay, I realise I am in a minority in that I go to look at industrial sights when I travel, but the most interesting architectural trend in the world is what is being done with decaying industrial structures, and how they are being rebuilt with modern materials and modern design to become commercial and residential centres. The result has a tendency to look like monsters with spider webs growing on them. Bilbao as a whole is maybe the best and most fascinating example of this kind of thing in the world. The Guggenheim museum in Bilbao works architecturally because it understands this and complements the rather brutal architecture around it - not because it is some gem surrounded by a sea of effluent (as most guidebooks seem to suggest). Don't tell me you have missed this trend entirely? Yes. You have missed it entirely).

And the other thing I emjoyed was an aerial photo of the city of Porto, featuring a couple of huge bridges. Porto was nothing but a football club to me, until today.

Porto is a city with a chasm through the middle of it, through which flows the magnificent Douro river crossed by wonderful bridges built during the 20th century.

Here is a river level close up of one of them, which I found here:

PortoBridge.jpg

What the aerial view does not show, but what this close-up does show, is the way that this bridge (and the other similar one?) doubles up as a high level arch bridge that the trains use, and as a low level suspension bridge that you can drive or walk across. Clever. I've not seen this sort of arrangement anywhere else. But then, I've not been to many places. Certainly not to Porto.

It was about time I had another bridge here.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 09:29 PM
Category: ArchitectureDesign