Rain Bridge

by Aimilios Davlantis Lo (MArch II ’19) — Recipient of the James Templeton Kelley Prize, Masters in Architecture II

Washington DC is a city, characterized by contradictions: defined by its imposing urban order and the untouched landscape, the carved memories and the malleable present; the city asks for a bridge that expresses the simultaneous condition of rationality and iconicity.

This project entitled, Rain Bridge, is a stress ribbon footbridge on the Potomac River, spanning from the Little Island (south of Roosevelt Island) to the Arlington Memorial Bridge where the new path passes through and under the center bascule of the existing bridge. The new pedestrian bridge terminates with a fan-shaped floating deck, a public space situated at the center of the river.

Inspired by Christo and Jean Claude’s floating piers in Italy, and Jurg Conzett’s punt da Suransuns in Switzerland, the project aims to bring people in close proximity with the water and the landscape. The bridge is a mechanical instrument which amplifies the forces of the river’s current to pull itself taut. It utilizes the double luff tackle mechanism, and it is strung with cables to create a lift that is in constant oscillation. As the daily tides shift and the water discharge fluctuates between seasons, the floating concrete deck, which extends beyond the Arlington Memorial Bridge, offers various functions – from a canoe storage framework to a concert stage structure. The bridge animates the river within the heart of DC’s picturesque landscape, serving as a dynamic contrast to the static monuments of the city, revitalizing the old Memorial Bridge with a tactile counterpoint.