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STERLING PRESSER Weaves a Cyclist and Pedestrian Footbridge Over the Neckar

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Sterling Presser

Interconnected and woven into the urban fabric rises a bridge inviting pedestrians to explore and experience the streaming river and the scenic cityscape. STERLING PRESSER Architects+Engineers envisioned a cyclist and pedestrian footbridge as a functional structure uniquely blend to unite traffic route and proximity. Stretching 600-meters long, the pedestrian and cyclist deck arises from a succession of urban scenarios and atmospheres: parks, street spaces, short narrow passages and wide riverside promenades. The designers imagined the structure as an urban link, nurturing a resourceful and elegant association between the two picturesque riverbanks with places to linger.

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Sterling Presser

The central location of the Gneisenaupark centralizes the movement, thus extending towards the direction of the Neckar and Bahnstadt. Ensued by double-ramp outlets, it creates a vibrant setting that becomes a programmatic architecture “under the bridge” and fashions a new sense of space.

Sterling Presser
Sterling Presser

The ‘Neckar-Arm’ evolves as a raised viewing platform becoming a contemplation point in the middle of the river with a unique view of Heidelberg and the river floodplains west of the weir. The ‘Bahnstadt-Arm’ spans the busy Bergheimer Straße and opens a new gate into the city centre with its dynamic shape. In addition, another ramp leads to the new park on the roof of the depot. From the high points, arise expansive views, while the low points serve as bridge connections in organized stature.

Visualizing the Path

The “Footbridge over the Neckar” explores the sculptural concept of the arch form. The global conception of the bridge structure elevates in a continuous deck over “V-supports” visually reminiscing a set of arches spanning the obstacles that pedestrians need to pass – the river, the roads and the parks. The position of each supports is much depended on the site physical constraints, resulting in quite different spans. Each “V” is a two-legged frame in the transversal direction, except for the main pillar in the river, where two legs are united as a single element. Above the central arch emerges a belvedere platform conceived slightly higher than the surroundings, creating a viewpoint towards the Old city. The solution balances between structure and aesthetic where a pure arch system achieved in cooperating with the site constraints.


Inspired by the gothic arrangement in the “Heiliggeist” church, the build-up of the cross-section carries a sacred setting. The folding plates stiffen the main structural plate and weave a visual continuity between the bottoms of the arch to the deck itself. STERLING PRESSER innovatively invoked and exposed a fine line that exposes exquisiteness and practicality.

Sterling Presser

Location: Heidelberg, Germany
Architects: STERLING PRESSER architects+engineers PartG mbB, Berlin
Structural Engineers: Adao da Fonseca, Portugal
Landscape Architects: A24 Landschaft, Berlin
Renderings: GRAUVISUALS
Type: Cyclist and pedestrian bridge
Span: 120 m, Length: 610 m Width: 6.5 m
Budget: ca.18 Mio EUR
Material: Steel
Phase: Shortlisted competition entry

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