Bridges | Wayward Wandering

A bridge is a construction that takes the persons of a site to other one happening on an obstacle, a barrier. A bridge can provide, in addition, cover, protection.

María Moliner says

Construction of any class, fixed, provisional, detachable, etc., done on a river or a cut of the area to happen from a shore or across. Hereinafter the dictionary says: what serves to bring over to persons or things; particularly to persons, if it exists between them tirantez or make enemies. Of there the expression To build bridges: a person Does for your part an attempt of approximation in order that it dismisses the tirantez of relations or the hatred between her and other one. To be reconciled.”

Prague, 1357: it begins the construction of the Karlův most, the bridge most known about Prague, one structures that Moldavian happens on the river, taking the persons of the ancient city, Staré Město, the shore of the castle, Malá Strana. Designed by the architect Petr Parlér and constructed by hundreds of anonymous hands, in the 15th century it was the central artery for the persons’ step and goods, being the only bridge that was connecting both parts of the city divided by the waters of the river, friends and enemies, source of the drinkable water of the city and danger in case of flood. Another function not planned of the bridge was to give cover to multitudes of beggars, debtors, errant. Beggars, debtors, errant that could understand the bridge, the reason of his construction and find protection. Three Gothic towers that represent his ends have turned part of the city, being inserted without discontinuity between the bridge, the river and the houses, his ceilings of needle talking with the domes of the baroque churches, contributing without violence to the exceptional beauty of the city.

Železniční most (2014) | Fotografía: Wayward wandering
Železniční most (2014) | Photography: Wayward wandering

Prague, 1871: Vyšehrad’s railroad bridge,  Železniční most, is different of the numerous bridges on the river Moldavian. Five centuries after the Karlův most, it represents the transposition and adjustment of the bridge to the epoch of the train, way of collective transport that facilitates the communication between both parts of the city and between the city and the adjacent territory. An element that turns out to be fundamental to understand the function and nature of a bridge and to determine his relation with the environment is the position of the structure in the city. The position of the Karlův most and of Vyšehrad’s railroad bridge is not substantially different, since it repeats the scheme of the first bridges that mend to the prehistoric epoch – as for example the first bridge on the river Thames in London (1750 AC) – as well as that of the Etruscan, Roman, Romanesque, Renaissance bridges: he structures a to allow to the man to cross a river or a barrier, a construction that brings over to persons and things, a work that makes inhabitable a place, a bridge stretched to the different thing. The color of the rusty iron of Vyšehrad’s bridge has managed to be a part of the colors of Prague, as well as the green one of the domes of rusty copper of many buildings of the city.

Proyecto para el Nuselský most (1927) | Josef Havlíček
I project for the Nuselský most (1927) | Josef Havlíček

Prague, 1927: there is born the dream of the engineers, to construct a bridge to connect both shores of the valley Nusle – a time a village in the suburbs of Prague, rich land of vineyards (Vallis Vinarium) and mills driven by the waters of the river Botič, nowadays central zone of the city – making spend the biggest highway of the Czech Republic for the way of the city. To the ends of the valley: on the one hand Pankrác’s plateau – that receives his name of Pankrác’s church, but that actually is today a place known by the homonymous jail – for other one the center of Prague. Josef Havlíček is the architect funcionalista that presented an offer, in the contest of 1927, for the construction of the bridge on the valley Nusle: he structures a of concrete that rests on a series of skyscraper. The viaduct yergue on the houses cutting the valley, going towards the jail Pankrác.

The offer was not realized, the dream of the engineers remained suspended. Something new has born in the use of the technology, which always has had a possible adverse effect, but now the balance between positividad and negatividad has been lost by it.

Prague, 1967: 40 years after the contest of 1927 for the construction of the bridge – between 1967 and 1970 – the viaduct on the valley Nusle (the Nuselsk ý most) was constructed, following a project different from the presented one for Josef Havlíček, but actually not very differently. The bridge – 500 meters of concrete pretensado – though it does not rest on skyscraper, happens over the existing houses, to 40 meters of height, and crosses the park Folimanka, projecting a shade on houses in which the persons sleep having the illusion of living through a full and sure life, being actually beggars and errant in a world in which any reference has got lost with the things.

Nuselský most  (2014) | Fotografía: Wayward wandering
Nuselský most (2014) | Photography: Wayward wandering

The viaduct is the clearest image of the political ideas of the epoch of the communist government. An idea, a straight line planned in a plane, abstract, materializes in a gigantic viaduct that spoils the space, as a modern Goliat. But another image is the perfect representation of the relation between modern use of the technology, war, (I try of) destruction of the person and the city and conquest of the nature (on the part of the engineers and the bureaucrats): the use of Soviet tanks to realize the tests of load during the construction of the bridge, in 1970. Tanks that overfly the houses, the persons, led by persons who cannot meet and who cannot touch, cross a bridge of concrete that goes on to more than 40 meters of the land of the valley Nusle, on the trees and the roofs of a few houses that have lost his reference with the environment.

Nuselský most – pruebas de carga (1970) | Archivo Dopravního podniku hl. m. Prahy
Nuselský most – You try load (1970) | Archive Dopravního podniku hl. m. Prahy

In 40 years 400 persons have committed suicide from the Nusleský most. A person every month has jumped of the bridge. It would not be completely senseless to see the jumps as the desire of return to the sense of the things, jumps from the tanks towards the trees and the houses, jumps as desperation for all the bridges not stretched to another possibility, jumps as rejections, as impossible attempts of reconciliation with the world opposite to the folly of the history. As the attempt of Jaroslav Hašek’s suicide in 1911 from the Karlův most, gesture dadaísta before litteram of rejection of the folly of the human actions, summarized in the adventures of his brave soldier Švejk during the world war. History that there would be necessary to return to construct from the anonymous statements of the rejected ones, since, as Pasolini1 says,

“In the waste of the world a new world is born: new laws are born there where already there is no law; a new honor is born where honor is the dishonor. There are born power and nobility, ferocious, in the crowded huts, in the places without border, where you think that the city finishes and where on the other hand it starts over again, enemy, it starts over again thousands of times, with bridges and labyrinths, works and ditches, after swells of skyscrapers that cover entire horizons.”

The administration, for your part, has contributed to the solution of the problem constructing protection fences that they prevent the persons from damaging to if same.

Wayward Wandering
Author of the blog Perspectivas Anómalas
Barcelona, Noviembre 2015


1 Pasolini, Pier Paolo, La religión de mi tiempo (1961), Nórdica, 2015

Wayward Wandering

Viaje en el espacio físico de la ciudad, las ideas que lo crean, la materialidad que lo compone, las excepciones y desviaciones que proponen posibilidades nuevas.

Wayward Wandering es teórico de la arquitectura. Colabora con varios medios en el ámbito del pensamiento crítico y es consultor de la Universidad de Edimburgo en el área de las artes y la arquitectura.

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