New bridge in Mühlau, Switzerland


The existing bridge in Mühlau has long served as an important link between two villages. However, safety concerns and poor visibility have made it necessary to build a new bridge that can accommodate pedestrians, cyclists and cars while blending into the existing landscape.

Gottlieb Paludan Architects, in collaboration with engineers from WaltGalmarini AG, structural engineers from COWI in London and landscape architects from Uniola, developed the winning competition design, which focussed on safety, visibility and environmental harmony in the Mühlau landscape.

The design is based on optimising the structure of the bridge by transforming the approach curve to the bridge and the width of the bridge, thereby improving visibility for both cars and pedestrians on the bridge. Titled "Flügelschlag", which translates to bird wings, the design is inspired by the local bird population, resulting in a continuous bridge shape that evolves along its entire length to provide a unique experience for pedestrians. The twisting flange design adds dynamism and creates changing reflections of natural light throughout the day, benefiting both pedestrians and motorists.

The jury described Gottlieb Paludan Architects' design as a "bridge of unique construction and recognisability. Despite the relatively complex geometry, the design results in a simple overall expression".

Under the bridge, added stones create a habitat that not only enhances the landscape, but also benefits the local river and fauna, including fish. The V-shaped bridge piers form a unique visual element under the bridge, ensuring minimal blocking of views of the surrounding nature.

From a construction, maintenance and sustainability perspective, the bridge design also minimises the impact on the environment by, among other things, reusing existing bridge foundations and piers to reduce the amount of concrete used for the new bridge.