Infinite Bridge

Here’s one for the bridge fans among you. It’s Gjøde & Povlsgaard Arkitekter’s Infinite Bridge in Aarhus (in the middle of Aarstreet), Denmark.
From above, it’s rather London Eye, isn’t it?

…but flat.

Say archdaily.com:

The Infinite Bridge has a diameter of 60 meters and is positioned half on the beach and half in the sea. It consists of 60 identical wooden elements placed on steel pillars housed about two meters into the sea floor. The deck of the bridge rises between one and two meters above the water surface depending on the tide. The curvature of the bridge follows the contours of the landscape as it sits at the mouth of a small river valley extending into the forest from the beach.

No fence. But Danish people are known for their sense of balance and are generally great swimmers, so it’s all ok.

Described by its designers as an opportunity to “experience the changing landscape as an endless panoramic composition and at the same time enter a space of social interaction with other people experiencing the same panorama” (i.e. there are views and crowds) (c.f. iterum London Eye).

It’s a very pretty thing, as you can see on the gallery at the link above, but while it is a bridge in that is is:

a structure carrying a road, path, railway, etc. across a river, road, or other obstacle.

it’s not exactly very functional, is it? And yes, I know it’s not meant to be functional – I do recognise that it’s sculpture, it’s “a true art piece”, but while you’re admiring the images of it – check out its little companion at the bottom of that pic above.

(c)_-_DANISH_TMIt’s basically a plank over a stream – an ugly, disappointing, almost pitiful effort against that sweeping, circular path of beauty next door. But look at how good it is at effectively carrying people from one side of the stream to the other. See how they can continue their onward journey. Note how they are physically able to access another place by using it.

So sure, the infinite bridge is the big, headline-grabbing principal player in this story and I’m sure it’s a wonderful addition to Aarhus’ landscape, but maybe there’s a lesson here to never forget the ordinary, hard-working backroom team that allow the star to shine.

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Homefree

This is another of those “skilful people doing skilful things in front of great landscapes while being accompanied by cool music” videos. We’ve seen them before here and here. This one is slightly different though, in that it involves no bikes and is set on the Isle of Man.

Here’s Will Sutton’s Homefree:

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Beautiful scenes, amazing ability. The two links at the end of the video include an interesting “The making of” mini documentary and an Isle of Man Tourism piece, both of which I also enjoyed.

And that music – First Light by Racing Glaciers, the video for which isn’t bad either.

Thanks Stu

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The Bends

…continuing from the adventures of yesterday’s post.

No, not the 1995 Radiohead album (although now I’ve thought about it, I’m going to have to have a listen to that), nor the divers’ nightmare of decompression sickness (which I’m still not going to try, despite mentioning it).
No. More specifically this bit of the R61 in the Eastern Cape.

Just south of the last infamous Lusikisiki speedbump is this Superspar billboard:

R61 - Google Maps - Google Chrome 2015-07-14 094852 AM.bmpYes, that’s a screenshot from Google maps. And yes, I should have stopped and taken a photo myself, but I was traumatised from 4 hours of Eastern Cape driving and I needed to get to a beer.

The sign says:

Only 133 bends to go

presumably until you reach their store (we never did).

133 bends? You might think they’re joking, but then you hit this ±20km section of unstraightitude (and that’s a bend every ±150m):

Lusikisiki - Google Maps - Google Chrome 2015-07-14 090736 AM.bmpTwixt the rolling hills of the southern Transkei, it ducks in and out of numerous valleys before heading down to the mighty Mzimbuvu River. And yes, it is ever so bendy. You might think that it looks rather fun, but given the situation I was in when heading down here (several hours in and needing that beer), it was actually rather tiresome.
It was also filled with potholes, damaged armco, broken glass and loose gravel.
Which was nice.

Thankfully, I wasn’t driving my car.

Quite what Superspar think they are doing by quantifying and glorifying this horrendous stretch of (partial) tarmac – let alone linking their brand to it – is quite beyond me. As I mentioned earlier, despite going through the 133 motions as instructed, we never did find their store. Given the mood I was in after all that driving, that was probably good news for their continued trading.

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Ship To Wreck

Here’s a nice cover of Florence And The Machine’s Ship To Wreck from Rhodes, at play in the Radio 1 Live Lounge:

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Soulful stuff. With a cello, too. Cello is always good.
Just a shame about his wickedly racist ancestry.

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The Lusikisiki Speedbump Conundrum

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of driving through some of the Eastern Cape: specifically the region formerly known as the Transkei. It was an eye opener of note – the roads crowded with children, goats, dogs, donkeys and potholes. Most of the journey was through the unique rural landscape, but we also travelled through the towns of Bizana, Flagstaff and Lusiksiki. The former two were busy, bustling and dirty; the latter – a hilltop settlement developed from a military camp established in 1894 – was more notable for its huge number of apparently unnecessary road calming measures.

No driver particularly likes speedbumps, but I think that the majority of us can understand the need for them in certain places: near schools, pedestrian areas etc. What I didn’t quite understand was the need for 79 (seventy-nine) of them (and 31 rumble strips) on the R61, in and around Lusikisiki. The majority (though not all, as keen mathematicians will note) of the speedbumps were arranged in groups of 6, perhaps 50 cm apart. Having watched minibus taxis repeatedly slowing to a near standstill to traverse these devilish sets, I can attest to the fact that they are a particularly effective way of slowing vehicular traffic down.

But, as I mentioned, slowing it down for no apparent reason whatsoever. Even when you leave the town and are heading back out onto the roads snaking south towards Port St Johns – the speed limit back up to 80kph, there’s yet another lot – in the middle of nowhere. It was almost as if they’d been put there for the sake of putting them there – or because someone needed to be paid for something tangible. Look, I’m not suggesting that the local municipality is in any way corrupt, but it’s kind of tough to work out what other reason there could be for so much utterly pointless work being done when the whole area is so severely impoverished.

Hmm.

I was reminded of this anecdote:

Some years ago the mayor of a small rural town in the Eastern Cape visited his friend, the mayor of a similar town in Zimbabwe.
When he saw the palatial mansion belonging to the Zimbabwean mayor, he wondered aloud how on earth he could afford such a house.
The Zimbabwean replied: “You see that bridge over there? The government gave us a grant to construct a two-lane bridge, but by building a single lane bridge with traffic lights at either end, I could build this place.”
The following year the Zimbabwean mayor visited the Eastern Cape town. He was simply amazed at the Eastern Cape mayor’s house: gold taps, marble floors, diamond doorknobs; it was marvellous.
When he asked how he’d raised the money to build this incredible house, the Eastern Cape mayor said: “You see that bridge over there?”
The Zimbabwean replied: “No.”

Indeed. There’s no new bridge in Lusikisiki, but there are speedbumps for Africa… and beyond.

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