By Ben Schiller
The Luchtsingel is a footbridge in Rotterdam (in the Netherlands) with two unusual attributes. One, it is all wood--17,000 individual planks. And two, it is funded by individual donations, not the city's coffers. Each piece has someone's name on it.
Conceived by a local design practice called Zones Urbaines Sensibles, the idea to reconnect a part of the city cut off by traffic. By making the area walkable again, the hope is to attract shops, restaurants, and small businesses to the area.
"The area around Hofplein in the center of Rotterdam was once a bustling district but is now dominated by speeding traffic," says Anushka Wardenaar, of ZUS. "This reconnects the city center with the northern districts."
The bridge is temporary, while Rotterdam gets together the necessary finances to build something permanent. But it's likely the Luchtsingel will be around for a while. According to the city's current schedule, the new bridge won't be funded for another 30 years.
"The area cannot wait that long," Wardenaar says. "Crowdfunding allows the bridge to be financed in an alternative way [so that] construction can start decades early. Improvement in the area is therefore no longer fully dependent on real estate developments."
The planks range in price from 25 Euros ($33) to 1,250 Euros, and the hope is to extend the bridge if more funding becomes available. The project is one of several around the world making use of crowdfunding for delayed public works. If this city isn't going to pay for something the citizens want, at least now the citizens can pay for it themselves.
Copyright 2013 by Fast Company. Reprinted with permission.