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World Architecture Festival: Kiwi Infrastructure Proposal for Desi Statue Bags Honours

Posted by
on January 24, 2019 at 09:27 AM

If any single thing is making more news than the grandiose flurry of celebrity weddings this season, it is statues of all sizes and entities. Yes, statues from all over are in the news, led by the ‘Statue of Unity’ of superlative claims, for various reasons and so is the statue of Thiruvalluvar in the neighbourhood of the Vivekananda memorial at the southern tip of India for the prospective development of infrastructure around it. A design proposal by Kiwi firm Monk-Mackenzie for a pedestrian bridge connecting the mainland of the Indian subcontinent to the Thiruvalluvar statue and continue further to the Vivekananda Memorial rock, already approved for construction and scheduled for completion by 2019, has won the highest honours in its category at the World Architecture Festival.

© Courtesy of internet resources

As a global celebration of the finest in architecture being practised every year, the World Architecture Festival is a much awaited curation as also a highly prestigious recognition of superior design prowess in various categories sourced from all across the world. The festival this year was held in Amsterdam from 28th to 30th November, where the awards were announced during a 3 day programme packed with talks, seminars and exchanges between active players in the fraternity and an exhibition of the works of all the winners was put up for public viewing. From among 535 shortlisted projects from 57 countries, 33 projects made it to the final winners’ list.

The Thiruvalluvar Pedestrian Bridge proposal for Kanyakumari, India, designed by the New Zealand firm Monk-Mackenzie in collaboration with Auckland based Novare Design, has been announced as the winner of the 2018 award under the category of Infrastructure Future Projects. This is a proposal for a 500 m long pedestrian bridge across the Indian Ocean, which is in two spans and connects 3 points. The bridge is purposed to connect the southern-most tip of the Indian mainland with the 133 feet tall statue of Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar, a philosopher of secular ethics and morality, which is out at sea and continuing further to end at the Vivekananda Memorial Rock.

The bridge design itself is uniquely sculptural, its curvaceously minimalistic aesthetic evoking a poetic aura befitting the personality it commemorates and is named after. It ribbons its way through the sea like a string of pearls, the pearls here being the curved spans of RCC orthotropic triangular cross-sections holding up the deck with its arching petal shaped shades made of fibre reinforced polymers. That these shades arise from a single edge/ side of the bridge all along its length and arch over to shade the walkway with their canopy displays the subtlety exercised in the articulation of aesthetics. 

The first length of the bridge which stretches up to the statue is about 400 m long consisting of 20 spans of 20 metres each, and the second approximately 100 metres long length is made up of 5 such spans. Describing the proposal as “a simple and elegant response to a complex problem”, the judges recalled the fact that architects Dean Mackenzie and Hamish Monk are the minds behind projects like the Auckland Lightpath/ Nelson St Cycleway and the award-winning X-House in Queenstown. Both these urban design projects earned iconic status owing not only to the advanced level of technological and functional success but also due to the fine aesthetics and humaneness of the projects. 

The Indian government has approved of the proposal and signalled its execution through a confidential consortium appointed for this purpose. The bridge is likely to be completed in 2019 and ready for use by locals and tourists alike. It is, indeed, very fortunate for India to be hosting such a precious piece of infrastructure! And, something to look forward to in the future of design.... 

Designer : Monk-Mackenzie + Novare
Photography :internet resources

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