Rarely do bridges not only encourage but actually force users to slow down and enjoy the ride. Yet, this is exactly what the Puente Laguna Garzon, a graceful circular bridge in Uruguay, was designed to do. Created by renowned architect Rafael Viñoly, the overpass represents “a lagoon within a lagoon” that spans across the Laguna Garzón, between the coastal cities of Rocha and Maldonado. The central idea behind the new structure is to force traffic to slow down and soak up the view.
Funded by Eduardo Constantini, a local developer, the bridge is expected to carry about 1,000 cars each day. It works by splitting two lanes of traffic as they cross the bridge, and is also equipped with pedestrian walkways on both sides, simultaneously encouraging drivers to slow down and tourists to take a jaunt across the water. According to the New York-based Viñoly, “the concept of the Puente Laguna Garzon was to transform a traditional vehicular crossing into an event that reduces the speed of the cars, to provide an opportunity to enjoy panoramic views to an amazing landscape, and at the same time create a pedestrian place in the centre.”
Despite the intriguing concept, construction of the iconic project was met with some resistance from local residents and environmental groups who argue that the structure will change the lifestyle in both the connecting cities. The bridge will drive development along the rural coastline, specifically in Rocha, an area where environmental safeguards state that only 35 percent of the land may be developed, and of this, 50 percent must be set aside for green space. As infrastructure of the area improves, it will be necessary to continue to protect areas in direct contact with nature and keep an eye on how tourism impacts the local way of life.