IJburg is an artificial archipelago in the IJmeer on the eastern outskirts of Amsterdam, to accommodate housing for Amsterdam’s ever growing population. To connect the six islands with each other and the mainland, dozens of bridges were needed. In order to organize these various structures and create visual coherency, the Amsterdam Municipality commissioned five different architecture firms to design their own ‘family of bridges’. Each family has its own idiom and style that suits its function and the surroundings.
Benthem Crouwel Architects was selected to design the ‘Buitenwater’ (open water) family. These nine bridges lie on the outskirts of IJburg, near the shores of the various islands. Most of them mark the transition from urban residential district to the nature and recreational area of Diemerpark. Of all the families the Buitenwater bridges are the most light and transparent: they look like slender piers that skim the water surface. Five of the nine bridges are used by both cars and slow traffic, the other four are for pedestrians and cyclists only, in quiet parts of IJburg without much motorized traffic.
The nine bridges of this family each have their unique appearance yet are unmistakably related, following one single, flexible design principle that can be applied to all bridges and suits all locations. They are transparent, use identical materials and share details like the slightly inward curving of the balustrades. Thanks to their open and light structure views of the water and urban landscape are never obstructed.