Best of Bike Architecture
Build it, and they will come. That's not always true, but well-thought and needed bike infrastructure is something cities can be proud of. We've made here a selection of 10 bike architecture projects which are not just visually very appealing, but also contribute to enjoy our rides.
Snail shells, bike path link on 10th floor and lit bike paths. These ingenious bike architecture projects are not only visual milestones in the landscape – they make life much easier for cyclists. Here are the 10 most beautiful buildings for urban cyclists:
A roundabout for cyclists that’s also a bridge. The Hovenring by ipv Delft between Eindhoven, Veldhoven and Meerhoven (the “Hoven Ring”) in Holland is one of the most distinctive pieces of architecture. The 70-metre pylons are secured by 24 steel cables to make a 72-metre wide ring – the bike path. It’s been separating bike riders from the traffic below since 2012.
Van Gogh Roosegaarde Bike Path, Holland
It’s thanks to the 125th anniversary of the death of Vincent van Gogh that you can ride under the starry sky at night in the village of Nuenen, near Eindhoven. A sparkling bike path opened in November 2014, inspired by the artist’s work “Starry Night”. Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde “planted” thousands of stones with a special coating over a length of 600 metres. The coating is called “dynamic paint”, and stores daylight that can be released again over a period of eight hours during the night.
8 House, Denmark
Obviously the world capital for cyclists has to make a contribution to the list of the most beautiful bike architecture. The “8 House” – also called the “Big House” after its architects – is the largest private building in Denmark and at the same time a wonderful gift for urban cyclists. You can start your trip into the city from your own balcony, even if you live on the 10th floor. The building’s name comes from the fact that it is designed in the shape of a figure eight.
Peace Bridge, Canada
The heavy commuter traffic across the Bow River prompted the city of Calgary to build a spectacular bridge for pedestrians and cyclists. The “Peace Bridge” by Santiago Calatrava extends 130 metres across the river – all without any supports. Its red, honeycomb-steel structure with glass roof makes it a striking point of interest.
Melkweg Bridge, Holland
Challenges lead to creative solutions. That’s confirmed by Next Architects, the creators of the impressive Melkweg Bridge. The different heights of the banks along the North Holland Canal at Purmerend called for a 100-metre stretch to become an acceptable gradient for bike and wheelchair users. The result was a zig-zag shape across the river. There is also a 12-metre high arch to give pedestrians a shorter alternative. At the same time, the bridge is high enough for ships to pass under it. The bike bridge itself doesn’t get in the way. It can open in the middle and fold to one side to allow ships through.
Because Copenhagen riders were tired of carrying their bikes up steep stairs and dodging pedestrians, they asked for a new link between the Kalvebod Brygge and the Island Brygge. Stylish as ever, Danish designers Dissing+Weitling created the Cykelslangen (snake bike path) in the port. The 220-metre long, orange ribbon winds its way 6 to 7 metres above the water, reducing conflict between bike riders and pedestrians and at the same time providing unique views.
Danish Pavilion, China
Danish lifestyle was the message design studio BIG (architects of the 8 House) wanted to convey to visitors at the 2010 World Exhibition in Shanghai. What better then than sustainability and bicycle traffic? Visitors could hire bikes and cycle through and on the white steel “snail shell”. On the roof of the pavilion, they were greeted by a garden with parking spaces for 300 bikes. Nice detail: an inside pool with water from Copenhagen’s harbour was installed for cooling during the Shanghai summer. Denmark left the structure for its hosts as the basis for a new fleet of rental bikes. Very sustainable!
Norway also has a “floating” roundabout for cyclists; it’s been there since 2010. However, media attention has focussed on its Dutch counterpart, probably because of its design. While the Hovenring strikes you as a futuristic steel concept, the Ring in Stavanger is a conventional concrete structure. They’ve done away with distinctive symbols such as pylons in Norway. However, the diameters of both roundabouts is the same at 72 metres.
Morlans Tunnel, Spain
It’s touted as the longest bike commuter tunnel in the world: the Morlans Tunnel in San Sebastián. With its white side walls and bright interior, it is certainly one of the most inviting tunnels as well. The 850-metre link used to be the Bilbao-San Sebastián railway line and since 2009 has been efficiently connecting two districts of the Basque city of San Sebastián.
Chongming Bicycle Park, China
Visually and functionally sophisticated bike architecture is still far from reaching its peak. Draft projects indicate that there is still a variety of ideas in the pipeline. The Chongming Bicycle Park is a prime example. An entire recreation area near Shanghai is to be given over to the bike. At the visitor centre, people will be able to hire bikes for navigating their way around the other buildings. If and when the project is implemented remains to be seen. Like the bike paths in the former underground tunnel or the SkyCycle in London, one thing is clear: it’s a great idea!
Foto “Hovenring”: John Tarantino (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia
Foto “8 House”: Paul Wilkinson (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr
Foto “Danish Pavillion”: Stefano Meneghetti (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr
Featured image “Hovenring”: European Cyclists Federation/ipv Delft (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr