GIDE Ljubljana Workshop Feb 2013
You are invited to a dinner. Where to exactly? You are invited to one of Ljubljana’s bridges which you are going to reshape and furnish for a special purpose and you are expected to design the bridge into something more appropriate for such a solemn occasion.
There are twelve selected Ljubljana bridges in front of you. Some of them have already become quite famous but some of them are even rarely noticed by the local people. The policy of the Ljubljana City Hall is firmly determined to close the city centre for the motorised traffic. One of the outcomes of this policy is that several bridges lose their fundamental function, namely to enable traffic, with the exception of the pedestrians, and parts that are dedicated to cyclists and emergency vehicles. So these bridges are more than well prepared to take on new functions.
Due to this establishment, architects and people of similar professions usually ask themselves if bridges were used throughout the history for any other purposes besides their primary traffic function. The answer is yes without any doubt. In the European Middle Age we can find many well known examples of bridges with built housing structures along them. The Ponte Vecchio in Florence is one such example and in the renaissance period the Rialto Bridge in Venice was planned to serve as a bridge with well designed merchants’ cells. In Ljubljana the old Špitalski most (Špital Bridge), the first mediaeval wooden bridge which was later replaced by Plečnik’s Tromostovje (Tripple Bridge), was equipped with the so called butchers’ sheds along both sides. The Čevljarski most (Shoemakers’ Bridge) of course got the name after shoemakers’ workshops and their hand-craft that took place on the bridge. And we can also mention the most glorious example in the world, the famous bridge of Avignon which was partly destroyed in the French Revolution (and never reconstructed), it was so wide that it was celebrated by an old folk song:
Sur le pont d’Avignon,
l’on y danse, l’on y danse,
sur le pont d’Avignon, l’on y danse tout en rond…