The Bridge / Dam

Project Name: The Bridge / Dam
Authors: Architecture INNATE


In the Global South, traditionally, the hard boundaries between ecology and architecture that contemporary built environments assume were always smudged. Across the tropics, structures that retain water play a significant infrastructural role simultaneously serving to augment the experience of access to water. Here, the built environment is found to be in a fine equilibrium with the landscape.

This project, realised as an elegant and light structure designed in steel, connects the two edges across a seasonal bio-swale; a structure that blurs the otherwise hard edges between natural features and human interventions. Reminiscent of the living root bridges of Northeast India, the morphology of this transitional space lies within this inter-relationship. The beauty of the intervention is that it can influence one on multiple levels, it embodies a sense of delight and positiveness.

Designed to sit lightly on the edge of a small swale, this infrastructural element enfolds a multitude of experiential and functional agendas: a bridge, a check-dam and a waterfall. It assimilates the water-retention structure with the site all the while holding on its own through a minimal and adept design.

A bio-swale is not always a pleasant water infrastructure. The water level rises and falls with seasons and the catchment area harbours a plethora of wildlife. One can contemplate the bridge being a dry, utilitarian structure in the summer, while engaging with the wetness and the aquatic landscape in monsoon; an architecture of endurance. The waterfall adds an element of joy and play as the swale overflows.

In contemporary architecture, the ideas of ecology and infrastructure are often imagined to be at odds with the other. This small bridge proposes a sophisticated approach that celebrates both: the act of building within ecology and the act of intervening in a landscape. The result is, simultaneously, an enduring architectural expression made with simple gestures, and a celebratory approach for holding water in a tropical landscape and therefore, The Bridge / Dam by Architecture INNATE is awarded a Citation in The Merit List.

Images & Drawings: courtesy Architecture INNATE

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