De Vlaamse Waterweg nv is part of the Flemish administration. Their main objective is the maintenance of all waterways that cross the region, including the adjacent land area and infrastructure. They strive to increase the quality and attractiveness, not only for water transport, but also for life surrounding the waterways, by increasing the ecological, water regulating, mobility and recreational value of their infrastructure.
Towpaths parallel to rivers and canals are generally intensively used routes for cyclists and pedestrians, both recreationally and functionally. To improve the functionality of these paths, a connection over the river Lyss between the municipalities of Wielsbeke and Waregem was necessary. De Vlaamse Waterweg commissioned SBE to design a cyclist and pedestrian bridge that spans the river in a comfortable way without disturbing the canal landscape or its ecological value. SBE therefore designed a sober, down-to-earth bridge that harmonizes with its surroundings.
An S-shaped route was chosen based on the existing traffic flows and recreational hotspots in the area. It was also decided to keep the bridge on the "inside" of the banks so that everything can remain within the limits of the public domain and the current towpaths do not have to be diverted. The construction thus largely follows the already formed lines within the landscape (Lyss - rows of trees - towpaths).
The structure over the width of the river is conceived as a symmetrical steel arch, which follows the inverse bending momentum diagram and thus obtains a logical, organic form that fits within the natural landscape. On both banks, a straight, concrete ramp connects the central bridge to the adjacent towpaths. Earthen slopes on both approaches anchor the whole in its surroundings.
The ambition was to give the bridge as slender a view as possible. Therefore, among other things, the uprights of the bridge were inclined outward so that one has more space at steering height without having to widen the bridge deck and also so that certain shadow lines were generated on the outside. This inclination was also continued over the concrete slopes and in combination with its concrete pillars below.
By working with three materials, namely steel, concrete and soil, it was possible to achieve an expressive dynamic in the architectural design. And that both in the overall image of the bridge but also in the experience of the user on the bridge itself. The embankment at the approaches gives the feeling that the bridge is literally anchored in its environment. Then there is the concrete slope in a straight movement that allows and gives you time to experience the steel bridge as a true star player. Once on the steel bridge, one follows the organic line from low to high and back again so the experience on the bridge itself differs in every spot.