The Lek bridge, an old arch bridge spanning the river Lek, was completed in 1936 as a part of the national road plan. For a long time, it was one of the most important connections between the north and south parts of the Netherlands. However, after construction of the directly adjoining Jan Blanken-bridges with much higher capacities, the bridge has been out of use since 2004.
Following several earlier attempts to preserve the bridge, a consortium with cepezed architects, Expericon, Hollandia Infra, Mammoet and the IV-Group explored the possibility for a total redevelopment and integral reuse. In the plan, the ramps of the bridge are used for zero-energy apartments, while the actual bridge itself will house a catering and conference pavilion.
Sustainability, circularity and uniqueness were important drives for exploring the possibilities. After all, restoration and reuse of the bridge for buildings would save thousands of tons of largely useless rest materials, as well as costs and energy for the dismantling and removal. Also, the plan preserves valuable industrial and infrastructural heritage, thus adding to a sense and experience of history. Moreover, use of the bridge as a basis for energy neutral dwellings and a conference centre constitutes a powerful new and eye-catching icon for how The Netherlands and its inhabitants deal and live with the widely present water. The houses and pavilion themselves can also count as characteristic references for innovation, creativity and sustainability: they are efficiently constructed with a minimum use of light-weight materials, are technically fully equipped for all the specific challenges of the location and are liberally provided with natural lighting and outdoor space. The panorama of the residents is typically Dutch and incomparable.
During a year’s time, the owner of the bridge, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, offered the consortium the opportunity to elaborate the plan in terms of among other things technical, financial and regulations aspects. However, it did not pass the objections of the municipalities involved, which concluded that it didn’t fit the spatial planning for the water meadows area.
The consortium with cepezed hopes the plan can still be inspirational for similar opportunities in other locations. cepezed-director Jan Pesman: “With the inevitable further modernization, beautiful old constructions on a variety of locations frequently lose their use. With smart solutions, we can often think up and design unique new destinations for them. We really love such challenges; reuse provides the historical settings with new layers of meaning and the new functions with an enormous added value. Moreover, it is plainly sustainable, of course.”