HALSTEREN (NL) - Imagine a bridge that, instead of spanning a body of water, cuts right through it. The so-called trench bridge, designed by RO&AD architecten, provides access to Fort de Roovere, which is part of the 17th-century West Brabant Water Line defensive system in the south-western part of the Netherlands. The strategic chain of forts and sluices enabled large tracts of land to be flooded to a depth of half a metre: too deep to wade through, too shallow for boats, and thus precisely the right depth to keep an enemy at bay.
Struck by the incongruity of building a bridge across a defensive moat, the architects came up with a bridge that is so much a part of the landscape as to be barely noticeable. Only close to is the narrow, wooden trench slicing through the dike and the water clearly visible.
To protect the wood against water erosion, the side walls are lined with the same EPDM membrane that is used to waterproof flat roofs and to line ponds.
The Trench Bridge was shortlisted for a 2011 Dutch Design Award and was the winner of the 2011 'Building of the Year' prize for the southern region. According to the jury of this annual prize awarded by the Royal Institute of Dutch Architects (BNA), the project 'delivers a scintillating experience whether on the bridge or outside it'. (Kim Hoefnagels)