In the current situation a winded path leads the people from the parking lot to the beach. These paths have been formed by natural circumstances. To these belong gradient and rise as well as ground condition and view relations. Considering these conditions those paths - which did the beach visitors form over the years – connect (point A) the parking lot and (point B) the beach the shortest way.
Exactly this basic approach contains our idea. While planning the path we can convert this basic idea consistently. The new access should bring the visitor the shortest way from the parking lot to the beach or the other way around. That implies a very plain and straight line.
However this straight way was not our very first idea, quite the opposite. After trying different variants that were based on high levels, the old path or the different views we asked ourselves the following questions:
- Will the new path be a useful alternative to the old trail?
- How many various viewpoints do I really need, and do I really see different things from different viewpoints?
- Do I like to walk on a path artificially arranged with high levels?
- Do I like to walk on a path that becomes absorbed in curves?
We came to the following conclusion:
- The vegetation is homogenous, the country is open – standing at the parking lot I can already oversee the terrain and more view points would give similar views
- I would walk unwillingly on an artificial constructed high level (for example across the railroad track) because it might get exhausting and the thoughts about the safety do not prevail
- Most likely I go the shortest way, precisely because I can already see the destination
In our estimation this reflects a natural and human behavior. Therefore to come to a conclusion it is absolutely necessary to know who uses the path. In consequence of publications about this beach section we came to the conclusion that – except for some tourists – mostly surfer use the beach.
The main user groups are people that come to the beach in a regular interval by going there weekly or even daily. These people want to have the fastest and the most uncomplicated access to their destination.
The current paths provide a relatively fast access to the beach.
A trail taken by it as varied in the horizontal and vertical direction involves the danger in this area. The visitor uses the path for a couple of times, then knows the trail and notices that the old way was faster and more uncomplicated. From then on he uses the old way again.
These perceptions have led us to the idea of creating a very straight and simple path leading the people directly from the parking lot to the beach. This is the shortest connection possible and there is no danger of using the old trail again. Furthermore this short path would affect a relatively small part of the nature reserve.
In vertical direction the path mainly runs along a contour line so that it has a constant gradient and therefore has a constant pitch to the ground. Yet there are sections on which the footbridge dives into the surrounding vegetation and also towers above it. The visitor sometimes stands above the country and enjoys the view and sometimes dives into the plants and is surrounded by them. As a result an interaction has developed but nevertheless for the visitor the destination keeps in sight.
After close consideration the strict form gets more different. Along the entire path benches invite people to relax. At the same time they structure the path and function as lighting at night. The footbridge is bounded on the one site by a closed wall and on the other side by a light and transparent railing. On the wall ones can read keywords routinely. They inform about the existing flora. More detailed information can be found with information panels and pictures on the dressing rooms at the beach.
After two thirds of the path there is a railroad crossing. At this point the wall folds about 90 degrees and narrows the wide of the path of about one fourth. Additionally to prevent an accidental enter of the rail the distance between the benches narrows. Also grooves on the footbridges floor run across. This is to additionally warn cyclists and skaters of the train and force them to dismount and walk.
On the other side of the rail the limitations of the footbridge are reflected and the bended walls faces each other. In this way an entry of the rail is prevented. Additionally acoustic signals are installed which make the people aware of the train.
In our opinion a gate that blocks the path is not really necessary. The depicted measures lead the walking direction appropriately and slow down the speed of the walker, skater or cyclists. The attention of the visitor will be lead to the danger of the train adequately.
In designing the structure, it was particularly important to us that the construction is possible without heavy machinery. An initial idea was to use old railway sleepers. Due to their high weight and the contaminants in it that may leak into the protected area, we rejected that idea quickly.
The substructure of the bridge is made up of standardized elements of the formwork and timber construction. These include ground anchors, support stands and timber formwork beams. All design elements are transported by humans and can be brought to the site without causing unnecessary damage in the protected area. The hardest part has a weight of 143 pounds. Other advantages are low-cost procurement, structural optimization and weather resistance.
The surface of the bridge is to consist of a regional, low-cost wood. We opted for Oregon Pine, as this tree grows along the entire west coast and in the U.S. is a widely used timber. It also has a relatively low weight, the surface is hard and weather-resistant and thus well suited for the planking of the platform. After some time it turns gray, the path will be integrated over time into the landscape.