Crossing the river Leie

Since 2015 residents and visitors coming from or going to the Buda island walk or cycle across the river Leie in Kortrijk using the Buda bridge designed by ZJA Zwarts & Jansma Architects. The new bridge is part of a project along the river called the Leiewerken, implemented to update the course of the river to meet the requirements set by contemporary inland shipping between Gent, Kortrijk and Lille. The Buda Bridge has a 4,87 meter clearance when closed to accommodate the largest ships. The bridge can also be opened in order to allow containerships with three stacked containers to pass under the raised 7 meter high deck. To open, the bridge raises itself on four legs, and is therefore called a table bridge. On the side of the Overleie neighbourhood the riverbank offers a bicycle path and tunnel to allow cyclists and pedestrians to avoid the intersection in front of the bridge and continue alongside the river.

Steel and light

The Buda bridge spans 38 meters and widens in the middle to enlarge the zone dedicated for pedestrians. The curved body of reflecting stainless steel hovers over the glistening water. The railing consists of unique, hand and custom-made steel boxes, that ensure a safe space for pedestrians, but also reflect the sky and the light onto the river. The slender curved bridge has elongated openings with steel slats on both sides giving a view of the water. On both sides of the road, separating road and footpath, low steel beams support the bridge. The functional construction is designed in a way that allows for optimal view and access of light. This is achieved by a network of narrow rods that connect the beams to the deck of the bridge. The lamps that light the footpaths are embedded in the steel railings. A carefully designed light plan for around and under the bridge ensures that the elegant Buda bridge remains an eye catcher after sundown, with the light playing in water and steel.

The bridge and the city

The Buda Bridge is not just important for inland shipping, it is also part of the general revitalization of the Buda island as a cultural hotspot of the city and the region. The hospital Onze Lieve Vrouwe, right across the bridge in the Budastreet, was built in the late Middle Ages and is one of the many monuments on the island that has been developing rapidly into a cultural centre the last ten years, with the opening of cinema’s, a theatre, and art spaces. The number of shops, restaurants, cafes, terraces and visitors has increased as well.

The Buda Bridge is designed to fit into this new urban image, with riverbanks that have a southern flair. The tip of the island is developed into a promenade. On a relatively small bridge like the Buda bridge every detail counts. The human scale is leading when it comes to the proportions of height and volume in the railing and the slats, but also in the sturdy beams and the narrow rods. The footpaths that widen, the flowing contours of the bridge are all elements of a design that aims to make the bridge a fitting and characteristic part of the new Buda island.

Client: De Vlaamse Waterweg
Principal: Technum Tractebel Engineering
Year: 2015

Project: #380