The Twisted Arc

Winning competition building proposal //
Public art & pedestrian bridge //
With the City of Houston, Studio Elmgreen & Dragset, Houston Arts Alliance and SWA Group

The Twisted Arc was the winning proposal for the competition for a new pedestrian bridge over the Buffalo Bayou in Houston, Texas. It would connect pedestrians from the north and south of Houston, along Buffalo Bayou’s park pathways and towards Downtown. From a distance, the bridge seems impossible to traverse, but, within closer proximity, one realizes that what had appeared to be an obstacle is actually a simple, crafted illusion. Pedestrians are, in fact, able to cross the bridge by passing through the apertures and under the swirling wave of concrete structure. They are able to marvel at the upside-down world that they are passing through.

The bridge would be composed of pre-cast concrete panels, street lamps, metal grates and structural beams and piers. Street lamps, similar to those on the adjacent roads of the site, accompany the concrete surface of the bridge. They illuminate the bridge’s initial flat terrain and then soar upwards and follow the contorted angles of the arc. The twisted arc occurs above the bayou, highlighting the body of water, concealed from street level, as a key multi-sensory experiential moment of the pathway. Underneath the concrete arc, a grated walkway simultaneously heightens awareness of the bayou below while providing a stable platform for pedestrians to pause and observe the twisted sculpture above. Meanwhile, the grates expose the slow rhythmic song of the Buffalo Bayou’s waters. The concrete arc itself rises above, framing downtown Houston to the east and the adjacent cityscape to the west.