Bouncing Bridge – Agence AZC

architects_ AZC
team_ Grégoire Zündel and Irina CRISTEA, Amilcar da Rocha Ferreira
client_ ArchTriumph
location_Paris, France
completion date_ 2013
budget_ 1 M€
photography_ Sergio Grazia
from the architects_

With the growth of « World Cities » in the 1990’s, the contemporary notion of the Urban Gathering was born. Its essential characteristic is the creation of a specific urban sense of time through a scheduled series of varied ephemeral events. This « event urbanism » exists as part of the increasing competition between capital cities, seeking to attract and maintain highly mobile professional classes and to satisfy more stable populations with novel practices of urban space.

The city of Paris regularly proposes a wide variety of ephemeral events, including Paris Plage (summer leisure and sports), la Fête de la musique (live music), la Nuit Blanche (contemporary art in situ), la Foire de Paris (general commerce), celebrations on July 14 and New Year’s Eve… The French capital has, in fact, a centuries- old tradition of urban festivals dating back to the Foire Saint-Germain in 1176.

The « City of Lights » has chosen the Seine River to anchor its warm-weather leisure projects, like Paris Plage. During a five-week period, this annual summer event converts the city’s riverbanks into beachfronts, for the pleasure of vacationing French and foreign tourists (along with many Parisians). A novel event in time and in space, Paris Plage transforms stretches of heavily-trafficked riverside arteries into beaches of sand and palm trees. The result is a unique occasion that brings, directly into the heart of historic Paris, a youthful population looking for summer amusement and sunshine.

The competition brief, A Bridge in Paris, allows us to locate an architectural reflection within this same realm of contemporary urban enjoyment. We note first that the notion of happiness is often linked to Nature (« Happiness is in the countryside. » goes one common French expression). And we recognize that human beings remain nostalgic for and imaginative of a state of primal happiness, of ancestral times when body and spirit were essentially free. The city has grown to conform our movement to regular rituals and daily itineraries.

It appears to us that Paris has the bridges and passages necessary for the flow of vehicular and pedestrian traffic across its waterways. Our intention is to invite its visitors and inhabitants to engage on a newer and more playful path across this same water. We propose, now, a distinctive urban feature:

Saut de Seine, an inflatable bridge equipped with giant trampolines, dedicated to the joyful release from gravity as one bounces above the river.

Installed near the Bir-Hakeim Bridge, the Saut de Seine Bridge is formed of inflatable modules, like giant life- preservers, 30 meters in diameter. In the central part of each ring, a trampoline mesh is stretched. The floating buoys, fabricated in PVC membrane, are attached together by cord to form a stable and self-supporting ensemble. Each module under tension – filled with 3700 cubic meters of air – develops in space with an arch-like form.

Designed entirely of light materials – PVC membrane, trampoline mesh, air – our project crosses the Seine at a specific point; it can of course adapt to larger or smaller dimensions at other sites.

The Saut de Seine allows every visitor a novel view of Paris from his or her own unique spatial position: upright and leaping, upside down and tumbling, gliding above like a circus performer…

The installation is located in direct relationship to Eiffel’s tower, itself a symbol of ephemeral architecture designed to provide a unique experience: a view of all of Paris. We think the superposition of these two works reveals a specific kind of architecture: one designed to install an experience of happiness in the city.