Puente de la Mujer

All around the world, over waterways are built bridges that lift over the water traffic time. Calatrava broke the tradition and brought to us a new design, a new way to absorb both water and road transport. There is no lift anymore but a swing bridge, a single mast with cables suspending a portion of the bridge which rotates 90 degrees in order to allow water traffic to pass.

The challenge presented by the client, La Corporación Antiguo Puerto Madero, S.A., was to design a foot bridge for Dock 3 that would improve pedestrian circulation and connect the plazas on either side of the embankment, while at the same time leaving unobstructed a loading dock that is still used for water traffic. Built of reinforced concrete and steel and paved with natural stone or ceramics, the Puente de la Mujer is illuminated at night, transforming it into a new symbol for Buenos Aires. In conjunction with other recently built structures in the area, the Puente de la Mujer will also help to create a new sense of place for Puerto Madero.

The 335-foot-long suspension pedestrian bridge is broken up into three sections, two static and one mobile. The central portion of the bridge was designed to rotate 90 degrees to allow water traffic to pass, with the two static portions connecting to pedestrian streets on either sides of the dam. Most of the bridge’s weight rests upon its central support, in which motors are located allowing the bridge to rotate.

The bridge was primarily built in Victoria, Spain and was taken to Buenos Aires in parts over five months. In its design, Puente de la Mujer is somewhat related to the Alamillo Bridge in Seville in its radical asymmetry and expressive tension, though its scale and angles are admittedly less grandiose and its asymmetry is reversed from the Seville bridge.

Courtesy of Santiago Calatrava

Courtesy of Santiago Calatrava

Porteños, as Buenos Aires residents are called, have long seen value in architectural monumentality and symbolism, as seen in their beloved obelisk, Casa Rosada and even La Bombonera. Added to that list was Puente de la Mujer, which was seen as a symbol of a new era in Argentina’s history and the new millennium. These hopes, however, were largely dashed due to the current disrepair that the bridge is in. Only three years after its inauguration, the bridge has been closed for some time due to missing screws and slats of wood which make it unsafe for pedestrians. The city of Buenos Aires has never assumed responsibility for the bridge’s upkeep, choosing instead to have the Gonzales family (who donated the $6 million bridge) to maintain it. The bridge is thus not operating, while its up keep is sorted out. In the meantime, the bridge gives Puerto Madero a beautiful modern counterpoint to its brick industrial buildings which have recently been rehabbed to house restaurants, shops and lofts.

Courtesy of Santiago Calatrava

Courtesy of Santiago Calatrava

Project Information:

Location : Buenos Aires, Argentina
Arcitect : Santiago Calatrava
Project Year : 1998 – 2001
Total Length : 160 meters
Client : La Corporación Antiguo Puerto Madero S.A.

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