The Project spans over the main stream of Pingshan River in the northeast of Shenzhen, with Pingshan High School and Feng Tian Shi Ju (a traditional Hakka enclosed house) on the north bank and some residential, commercial and office buildings on the south bank. No bridge between the two banks was available within a 1-km walking distance of the Project. This lack of connection nearby caused not only inconvenience to student pick-up but also constant congestion, a nuisance to urban life, on the distant Jinlong Avenue to the west and Pinglian Road to the east of the Project. After a public survey on road improvement and traffic environment of Pingshan, the district government decided to build a river-crossing pedestrian bridge between the two expressways to enable convenient pedestrian circulation of teachers, students and residents between the north and south banks of the river, alleviate peak-time traffic pressure in the area, and provide a place for surrounding residents to enjoy the river view and a leisure life. Based on the relations between the main entrance of the school and Zhenhuan Road, we proposed four conceptual design options with different site locations. The design proposal for implementation was finalized through online public voting. Specifically, the central axis of the bridge, aligned with Zhenhua Road, deviates from the main entrance of the school. To avoid the impact of after-school crowds on the road intersection, the bridge is split in two on the south bank to connect with the sidewalk, forming a Y-shape planar layout. This way, the architectural space and structural form of the bridge are unified in the design. Therefore, we slightly bent over the lower part of the bridge to eliminate differences between terrain elevation and structural section. For the bridge top, we made it a horizontal line to balance the weight loss caused by the turn of and difference between the lower part and the deck of the bridge. This concise and straightforward form conveys a tension out of tranquility.With a well-coordinated relation achieved between space and structure, the steel plates are used to close up the side edges of the variable cross-section box girders on the bridge top and deck, visually reducing the volume of the structure and bringing a lighter appearance to an otherwise heavy structure. The steel plates with different folded surfaces present varied light and shadow effect under the sunlight, enhancing the sense of space on the bridge. With all these efforts, the bridge facade and form appear clean and concise with elegantly staggered solidness and void. The final design proposal features well-controlled tension and articulated hierarchy in visual experience. The boundary between architecture and structure is blurred, and the "representational logic"-based structure is bestowed with the meaning of space and place.
Doreen Heng LIU is the Founder and Principal of NODE Architecture & Urbanism (NODE). She is a Royal Chartered Architect (RIBA), and a Member of the Architectural Society of China. She received her M.Arch from UC Berkeley in 1994 and Doctorate of Design at Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2008.Through a series of critical and research-based design exercises, the studio seeks to explore and ultimately to deliver different but better alternatives in architecture today. LIU has taught at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, and the University of California, Berkeley. She was appointed as Distinguished Professor at the School of Architecture and Urban Planning of Shenzhen University and Director of the Greater Bay Area Innovation Design Lab since September 2020.