AR Awards for Emerging Architecture

Highly commended


Bridge restoration

Barcelona, Spain

December 2006
On 23 February 1811, in a desperate attempt to stop Napoleon's invading army, General Josep Obispo ordered the destruction of the Pont Trencat, a double arched stone bridge spanning the River Tordera just east of Barcelona. Since that time, the Pont Trencat (literally the 'Broken Bridge') remained a poignant ruin, made redundant by the construction of a new bridge further down the river in 1866. In the mid 1990s, locals from the surrounding villages began mustering support and funds to restore the Pont Trencat and finally, a decade later, their efforts have paid off.
The bridge has come back spectacularly to life to a design by Catalan architect Xavier Font. Archaeological research dated the structure from the mid fifteenth century, but rather than simply mimic the original stone construction, the destroyed arch is replaced by a supple curve of Cor-ten steel, thus making absolutely explicit the distinction between old and new. Spanning 24m, the arch supports a box girder with timber decking. The arch was prefabricated in two pieces, the deck in three, and the new structure welded together in situ. For visual continuity, the steel balustrade is extended along the top of the existing stone arch. Underfoot, fragments of the original paving are revealed through steel grids set in the timber deck. The jury warmed to the project's boldness, and the way in which the present engages in a vigorous and stimulating dialogue with the past. C. S.

Xavier Font, Sant Vicent de Montalt
Courtesy of the architect