Thursday, May 15, 2008
Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir
Image © Feichtinger Architectes
A new bridge across the Seine in Eastern Paris is called Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir, after the feminist novelist and philosopher. This footbridge, which opened in July, 2006, is an asymmetric roller-coaster affair with no obvious means of support. It is both chaotically modern and graceful, and proudly bears the mantle of being the newest of the 37 bridges in Paris, which has more river bridges than any other city in the world.
The Pont Simone de Beauvoir is an arched bridge and a suspension bridge molded together. The two strands of steel frames with oak planking prop each other up. The center section is most unusual; the lower section arches up, and the upper section dips down to join together to form a shape similar to a human eye. The bridge links the new national library, the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand, and the entertainment complex at Bercy.
The bridge's architect, 45-year-old Dietmar Feichtinger, a Paris-based Austrian, says that the naming of the bridge after Simone de Beauvoir is appropriate. “She was a great writer, and the bridge leads to a library. She was a very modern thinker, and the bridge is very modern. She was a woman, and the bridge is very feminine.”
The intertwining decks in the center of the bridge provide a sheltered area on the lower level that can be used for fairs and exhibitions. The structure is extraordinarily wide for a footbridge, and there are no lampposts. Unique lighting comes from under the handrails. The photo belows shows the approach to the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand.