Imagine a new, architectural Living Bridge stretching across the river IJ, teeming with greenery and filled with stunning apartments, while creating an interconnected pathway encircling Amsterdam’s historic centre. Amsterdammers lazily cycle by, people peer through their windows at the skyline and the water, and the city’s traffic issues? Solved (or at least somewhat relieved).
It sounds idyllic, extravagant, but it is achievable. At least, according to a design proposed to the Amsterdam municipality by architect Dominik Philipp Bernatek that has since received international attention.
The Green Loop Amsterdam aims to solve the major issues of the city by creating a stunning 16 kilometre long looped park around the centre, connected by a Living Bridge.
“It transforms all large parks close to the city centre into one structure, supporting bicycle mobility, animal migration, biodiversity, and welfare,” explains architect Dominik Philipp Bernátek. “The new amount of greenery reduces urban heat significantly and provides a rain buffer for the historic city.”
Bernátek compares the Green Loop to a newer, greener version of the old city walls, “a statement for Amsterdam’s future-oriented values.”
And the location? Potentially ideal. A vision document from Amsterdam’s Advisory Committee for Connections recognised the need for a bicycle loop around the city. The documents also identified the prime spot for a connection as being between Azartplein and the North. The Living Bridge mirrors both of these findings.
“The new cross-river connections are not primarily there for tourists, but just for the daily users of the city, who increasingly live along the inner ring and travel to work,” says the document.
Bridge over the river IJ
One of the major problems the Green Loop attempts to solve is the lack of direct transport options for residents of Amsterdam Noord and the city centre, who currently rely on ferries. Yet, skyrocketing population growth in the area has made congestion an increasing problem.
The municipality has been stuck in a tug-of-war over whether to build a tunnel under the river IJ, or a bridge over it, for years. But, what makes this design different is it’s not just a bridge: Living Bridge Amsterdam takes a bridge and combines it with housing, bicycle paths and parkland.
According to Bernátek, this will make crossing the river an experience for the everyday Amsterdammer, and a new attraction for the city. But is it financially feasible? Bernátek says a cost-benefit analysis would actually profit Amsterdam 200 million euros. We’ll repeat again: profit. That’s right: the Green Loop would also have a green budget.
Apartments with a view
One thing we just can’t get over is the incredible apartments that line the Green Loop. How can you have greenery and apartments? It’s all part of the clever design that sees the apartments gently slope up, creating two levels with an additional layer of parkland on top. That means public space, on top of private space.
Meanwhile, the apartments boast jaw-dropping views over the river IJ, and can transition from public to private terraces seamlessly through the use of panels, ensuring privacy for the occupants.
Will it be easy to bike over?
We know the Dutch aren’t a fan of hills, and let’s be honest — we prefer arriving at our destination with minimum sweat. Thankfully, Bernátek says it was important for him to consider this in his design. “For me as an architect it is important to give people freedom of choice in how to cross,” he told DutchReview.
The form of the bridge promises a gentle and ‘comfortable’ biking slope, but as an even easier option, there is also an elevator that can be taken to the rooftop for a completely flat experience.
Boat traffic will still be able to pass underneath, but an allowance has been made for the bridge to open in the middle if required. Thankfully, the design of the bridge means it should rarely occur — that’s great news for anyone who has ever experienced the exasperation of waiting for a bridge to close!
Could it make Amsterdam a city from the future?
From our perspective (as non-city planners, to be fair), the project shows a lot of promise – and it looks incredible. While we think Amsterdam is a super good-looking city on its own, the addition of greenery and easing of congestion is something we’re massively in favour of. Besides, we can afford one of those snazzy apartments on a writers salary, right?
What do you think of the proposed Green Loop around Amsterdam and over the river IJ? Could it solve Amsterdam’s problems? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Feature Image: Dominik Philipp Bernatek
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in January 2020, but was fully updated in December 2020 for your reading pleasure.