Articles Grimshaw wins competition to design Rapas pedestrian bridge in Toulouse

International architecture practice Grimshaw, in partnership with Eiffage, leading the design team and Ingerop, ppa.architectures, ATP and Quartiers Lumières, has won the competition to design Rapas pedestrian bridge in Toulouse in the south of France. The bridge is one of two bridges, announced as winners of the design competition led by Toulouse Metropole, that will serve to better connect pedestrians and cyclists to the regenerated Ile de Ramier ― the new ‘green lung’ for the city on the river Garonne.

Connecting to the north of the island from the Fer à Cheval quarter the bridge spans 160-metres across the river. On the city side the bridge links directly to the embankment with access to the river promenade and the city cycle route and connects to the light rail station Avenue du Muret ― Marcel Cavaillé. On the island side, guided by the levels of the land and limiting its impact on landscape, the bridge descends into the park via a 360° sloping concrete ramp and stairway, designed to mitigate against potential flooding from the river.

Defining the bridge is the 60-metre inverted V-shaped steel mast supporting the cable-stayed bridge. Appearing to emerge from the island the structure acts as a gateway to the island and enables the bridge crossing to provide uninterrupted views to the old town to the north and the Pyrenees to the south. This functional simplicity extends to the material selection for the bridge:  the steel mast supports a five-metre wide metal deck and balustrade. By night, controlled lighting along the bridge and mast creates a safe, accessible passage for users and sets the new city route sympathetically in the surrounding natural and urban context on either side of the river.

With construction due to start in July 2022, the Rapas bridge will be the first of the two bridges to be complete, acting as a catalyst to the future redevelopment of the north of Ile de Ramier. This includes the redesign of the former Parc des Exposition site, as well as providing pedestrian, car-free access to the existing Art Deco Nakache swimming pool and the stadium.

“We are delighted to be collaborating on the design of Rapas pedestrian bridge, and to be part of the renewal of Ile de Ramier as the centre for leisure, sports and reconnection with biodiversity in the city. Our intent is for the bridge to become immediately part of the rich architectural character of Toulouse and contribute to connecting the wonderful spaces across the Ile de Ramier and the city centre through active travel.”

Alice Barrois, Principal at Grimshaw and Lead Architect for the project

“The Rapas bridge will be the first Grimshaw-designed project in 40 years to be built in France, delivered, alongside other exciting projects in the pipeline, from our Paris studio. It is a fantastic reflection of Grimshaw’s approach, where we can, through successful partnerships, bring beauty and rigour to deliver functional, contextual places that inspire people, respond to the environment and help shape cities and communities. ”

Declan McCafferty, Partner at Grimshaw