BY: CAROLINE ROLF
About 1000 cars can now cross the lagoon between the cities of Rocha and Maldonado on the southern coast of Uruguay everyday. But instead of racing from point A to point B, as we so often fall into the habit of, this iconic piece of architecture forces drivers to slow down and enjoy the view.
The Laguna Garzón Bridge crosses the scenic stretch of water that is a haven for many birds and wildlife. Designer Rafael Viñoly had to consider this sensitive environment that demands vehicle speed be reduced. The circular shape of the Laguna Garzón Bridge naturally slows down motor vehicles while providing those behind the wheel and on the sidewalks with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
The architect behind the paper-thin skyscraper, 432 Park Avenue, in New York City was in charge of replacing the rudimentary raft crossing that would carry cars one by one to the other side of the lagoon. Now, two lanes of traffic split the travellers as they approach the round centre of the Laguna Garzón. The project cost $11 million in total, the majority of which came from Eduardo Constantini, a real-estate developer in Argentina.
“It is an iconic architectural piece that will be a catalytic factor in driving the development of Rocha’s coastline, especially protected to preserve direct contact with nature. Just 35 percent of the stretch between the two lagoons can be developed and 50 percent must be devoted to green areas,” says the $10 million donor.
The new bridge will serve a practical purpose for drivers as well as attract many tourists to the observation deck and fishing spot in the lagoon. The Laguna Garzón will serve as a link between the cities of Rocha and Maldonado, creating a new era of Uruguayan culture.