Co.Design

Bridge Makes You Feel Like Moses, Parting The Red Sea

And the architects stretched out their hand over the sea…

With the exception of prophets and the occasional hacky Vegas illusionist, humans cannot, for all their wishful thinking, walk on water. At least they couldn’t until RO&AD Architecten came along. The Dutch architects have built a magical bridge that turns everyday Joes into a 21st-century Moses.

The aptly named Moses Bridge carves into a moat in Halsteren, a tiny village in the southern Netherlands. Made of wood and covered in waterproof foil, the bridge is almost completely submerged, its upper edge nearly flush with the water line.

It’s a masterful optical illusion. Seen from above, the bridge appears like a narrow trench. From a distance, it seems to disappear altogether. And it must be spectacularly fun to traverse. Who wants to read overwrought science fiction about the parting of the seas when you can experience it for yourself?!

Our concern is that the bridge seems awfully prone to flooding. What happens, say, in a storm, when the moat’s water levels rise? Ad Kil (the “Ad” in RO&AD) assures Co.Design that the bridge is designed for such contingencies, with a pump at the bottom of the structure that filters out excess water. Alas, it’s not magic, just good engineering.

[Images courtesy of RO&AD; hat tip to ArchDaily.com]

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21 Comments

  • Victoria Haneveer

    Went to see it yesterday... it's underwater - flooded and neglected. Shame nobody can be bothered to clean out the pump. Why construct something like this and then just leave it to rot?

  • Noah

    That's a beautiful structure.  And I like the "overwrought sci fi" comment.  I'm tired of people thinking their faith in old books deserves to be handled with kid gloves.

  • Netbug

    Wow, was the "overwrought science fiction" comment really necessary? I was going to show this article to my friends, but I'm not interested in linking to something on my blog that bashes my beliefs without any cause but to make a petty jab. :/

  • Harold

    If the water flows under the bridge, wouldn't it be even more impressive with glass walls so you could see the water cascading to go under the bridge. By the way, I don't think the water is flowing anywhere. It couldn't unless it was going under the bridge.

  • word2theP

    I pray Ms. Labarre that one day you will discover what is true and what is science fiction.

  • Mark

    Rather than resorting to insults (only 12 comments into the discussion), we should discuss whether there is a way for organisms (big and small) to actually traverse the waterway underneath the bridge.  Whether there is actual flow in the moat is irrelevant- fish still swim in a perfectly calm pond.

  • PeterB

    Obviously most of the previous readers cannot actually read, or just don't understand what they are reading!

    A moat is not a stream or a river. So apart from wind-driven movement, there is no actual flow. 

    The typical moat is a form of artificial lake and is usually a static body of water surrounding a building or architectural feature. In Europe they are normally found around castles and fortified mansions or chateaux, as a means of defence and protection.

    Since a moat is normally a complete ring of water around an 'island' on which the building sits, a single 'bridge' like this would not divide and separate it completely, since it is still linked as a 'U' form, if not the original 'O'.

    Living organisms should still be able to utilise the complete length of water, just as if it was a straight length of lake or pond. But perhaps this structure has a means for linking the water below the 'bridge'? It would have been good to know that kind of detail.

    I would guess that if the area it is in, is exposed to the elements, then the only problem (apart from leaks) is wind-driven waves breaking over the low lip. Hence the pump.

  • Zecenker

    It is NOT a  bridge. It is not subterranian whatever since clearly it is not under the "terra". RO&AD Architecten may have come up with a new structure that needs a whole new name of itself.

  • Angus

    Overwrought science fiction?

    Co.Design clearly has a pressing need for new senior editors.

  • #NigelNewton

    Suzanne states the bridge is carved into a moat. A moat is essentially a pond - so dividing a pond into two ponds shouldn't radically affect the ecosystem. Any additional water entering the pond may well extend at the ends of the pond thereby leaving the dividing bridge unaffected. I'd love to see the modernist castle that's the other side of the moat. I wonder what defences this bridge may employ to repel attackers in drawbridge fashion - submerge itself, perhaps?

  • john649

    This bridge benefits humans but does little to accommodate the life the exists in the water where this bridge essentially cuts the flow of life in half and prevents the millions of organisms to continue their flow down the stream not to mention anyone who wants to canoe will essentially hit a man-made roadblock.

    A better design would of taken all of these essentials into consideration.

  • Mark MacKay

    Cool bridge. It would be fun to walk. It reminds me of an installation I saw in London - a very regal room was half filled with oil - black, shiny oil. There was a little path viewers could walk into the room a few feet. The oil was perfectly level with the barrier, highly reflective and remarkable still.

    Regarding the other thread in the comments. I don't often use bridges since I can walk on water.

  • Fastco

    Yes, exactly my first thought. Saw the oil installation at Saatchi's in St. Johns Wood. Amazing experience, especially because of the ominous presence of the oil.

  • tommy pez

    "Overwrought science fiction" does seem a little harsh do describe something that so many people hold dear – and adding a link to the Wikipedia article about "crossing the Red Sea" was a bit boorish IMHO.

    And yes, it's interesting that there is no mention of whether or not the water flow is affected by the design.

  • Chris m

    jdm - get over yourself! if suzanne wishes to compare the bridge to a work of  of fiction, then she can - shes the senior editor.
    So jdm it's you who should keep his warped opinions to himself.

    I agree with mark about this design impacting on all the many ecosystems that exist in the river.

    Cool idea, poor execution and not really a bridge, more of a subterranean footpath.

  • jdm

    My opinions are not warped. And I have respect for other people and their beliefs (you obviously could care less about anyone but yourself). I was merely expressing that I don't want to have to read religious debate when I go to FastCo Design for DESIGN content, not someone else's belief structure. Also- I am a consumer and customer of FastCo so if I wish to express my opinion I am certainly entitled to. It's a free and democratic society. And who cares if she is a senior editor? That doesn't give her the right to be insulting in a publication. There was no reason for her to write that sentence other than a personal jab towards a piece of literature she prefers to believe as science fiction. If this were a blog about religious debate, then ok- there's a place for that. It is not however a place for that.

  • Alexander

    Where, exactly, did you get the stat that two billion fourteen million people in the world are loons who believe in a literalist interpretation of a storybook?

    Gorgeous bridge, by the way. Its elegance looks effortless, despite the volume of engineering that must have gone into it.

  • jdm

    Two billion fourteen million are the number of Christians and Jews in the world. Do a little Google research it does wonders for the brain.

  • Mark

    I love the concept of this bridge- however I hope it is not acting as a dam, and stopping the natural flow of water to either side.  Could be a natural disaster!

  • JDM

    Interesting article, especially the part where Ms. Labarre summarizes a story that two billion fourteen million people world wide hold as an example of divine intervention as an "overwrought science fiction about the parting of the seas". Next time keep your opinions about religion out of it Ms. Labarre. I like my FastCo Design content focused on design and not personal beliefs in matters of faith/religion.