A new effort in the Netherlands is building a crowdfunded pedestrian bridge, relying on the public to purchase individual planks for its construction.
There are few better indicators of consumers’ interest in a given initiative than the extent to which they’re willing to help pay for it. A new effort in the Netherlands is putting that principle to work for a new pedestrian bridge by building only as much bridge as citizens are willing to help fund. The city of Rotterdam is now hosting the 5th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) until August, and its main exhibit this year is entitled “Making City,” with a focus on smart new ways to make cities more livable. Launched recently by IABR and local architectural firm ZUS, the “I Make Rotterdam” project focuses on the area that stretches from Rotterdam Central District to Pompenburg and Hofbogen. “The area around the Hofplein used to be the bustling center of town, but now it is dominated by large-scale infrastructure, traffic and rear facades of buildings,” the project explains. “Our challenge is to use unconventional means to enliven the area rapidly by creating pedestrian connections and reinforce existing programs.” Accordingly, a wooden pedestrian bridge dubbed the Luchtsingel will span 350 meters and require 17,000 planks. Citizens are invited to chip in and help fund the effort with donations of anywhere between EUR 25 for one plank and EUR 1,250 for an entire bridge section — whatever the size of their purchase, they can inscribe the result with their name or any other text of their choice. Perhaps most interesting of all is that the length of the bridge will depend on the number of planks purchased. With more than 1,000 participants to date, roughly 14 percent of the bridge has been built so far. We’ve seen plenty of crowdfunded efforts over the years, but not often does a civic initiative ask citizens to “put their money where their mouths are,” so to speak. A model for emulation in other parts of the world?