Who said Exhibitions can’t be built as Bridges !

Who said Exhibitions can’t be built as Bridges !

Zaha Hadid’s signature style has made the Zaragoza Bridge Pavilion (Pabéllon Puente) an esteemed landmark; this combination bridge and exhibition space was built for Expo 2008 may see development into a museum for new technologies and water sciences.


The Bridge Pavilion was built for the 2008 Expo that took place in the Spanish city of Zaragoza. More than 100 countries participated in the three-month Expo, which attracted more than 5.5 million visitors to the city. Much more than just a pedestrian walkway, the 290′ long Bridge Pavilion created an interactive exhibition space that welcomed the masses to the expo as they crossed the Ebro River. At the time, the exhibition areas were used as an extension of the Expo’s theme, “Water and Sustainable Development.” For visitors crossing the Ebro River to the Expo’s main auditorium, the bridge quickly became the most emblematic symbol of the event, giving both the city and the bridge worldwide recognition.

The ultra-modern stucture was built using an interlocking diamond-shaped system that connects three elongated steel “pods” that run diagonally across the shores of the Ebro River. The center of the bridge rests on a small island in the middle of the river, where 220′-deep central piles were used for support purposes. These supports, along with the interconnecting pods that replace the typical triangular truss system, help brace and distribute the weight of the 7,000-ton bridge evenly. This innovative pod system served a dual purpose of structural support and interior exhibition space, providing a practical and modern solution for the Expo’s multiple exhibition needs.


In congruence with the Expo’s theme of water sustainability, Hadid’s design implemented the aquatic theme in the interior exhibition space and throughout the bridge’s structure. The sinewy and curvaceous shape was designed to mimic the fluidity of the surrounding Ebro River.

The structure itself is constructed out of Glass Fibre Reinforced Concrete, while the outer shell of the bridge is layered with 29,000 triangular panels of fibreC by Rieder in varying shades of metallic grey. The result is a shark-skin façade that shimmers as it reflects the ever present Spanish sunshine and the water below. Some of the shingles rotate around a pivot, which allows for natural airflow and temperature control inside the exhibition spaces as well as interior light control.


We designed an envelope for the Bridge Pavilion that encloses the exhibition spaces yet can be permeated by natural elements. The internal micro-environment varies with the external climate and requires minimal cooling or heating infrastructure. In particular, we considered the local Cierzo wind when designing the skin. A variety of openings convey and direct air into the building’s interior – cooling visitors in the heat of the summer./Zaha Hadid

Total floor area: 6,415 m2
Exhibition surface area: 3,915 m2
Pedestrian Bridge surface: 2,500 m2
Length: 270 m
Design: Zaha Hadid with Patrik Schumacher
Engineers: ARUP Associates
Project architect: Manuela Gatto (Associate)
Client: Expoagua Zaragoza 2008


Post Author: Zahi Baroudi

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