Cykelslangen | The Bicycle Snake

With the change from commercial harbour activities to residences and retail the Inner Harbour of Copenhagen has undergone a pronounced transformation. As part of this transformation, the first stage was a foot- and bicycle connection across the Inner Harbour, Bryggebroen (The Quay Bridge) by DISSSING+WEITLING architecture, which was opened in 2006 .


The first new crossing of the harbour in fifty years. The bridge became a tremendous success not only as a connection between two parts of the city, but also simply as a way to enjoy the views of the harbour, the sensation of being above water. However heading to or from Bryggebroen on the Eastern side of the Harbour cyclist had to carry their bikes down or up a full flight of stairs at one end of the quayside.

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Cykelslangen, or the ”The Bicycle Snake”, a 230 m long sky bridge which offers a short cut to Bryggebroen was opened in the summer of 2014. Cykelslangen takes off where Bryggebroen ends on the Eastern side of the harbour and continues in a meandering course to Kalvebod Brygge, a major roadway, some 5,5 m above the quay. Cykelslangen is used by 12.500 cyclists daily.


Copenhagen and bicycles
In 2011 the City of Copenhagen published its planning strategy for becoming the world’s best bicycle town in 2015. And this for all sort of good reasons – promoting a healthier life style cycling to work, setting the goal for Copenhagen as a CO2 neutral city by 2025, and simply – Copenhagen as a better place to live, more space, less noise, cleaner air. In 2010 with a 36% market share bicycles were the most used means of transportation to and from work within the city. The city’s strategy aims for 50% by the end of 2015.


In 2010 as part of the city’s bicycle policy, a forerunner for the bicycle strategy, a series of initiatives were taken. Amongst these a general consultant tender for what was to become the bicycle bridge Cykelslangen. DISSSING+WEITLING architecture won the tender with Rambøll as sub consulting engineers.


Cykelslangen – a winding course

The project went from a ramp to an elevated bicycle route. It winds its way and by doing so it makes the bikers inadvertently slow down. A bike route above land and water. And it barely touches either resting on slim columns with a distance of 17 – 20 m. It epitomizes the image of Copenhagen as a bicycle City. The pure joy of cycling. It is orange. Orange so that it may hold its own elevated place amidst the surroundings. Orange to provide a sense of sensuous luxury. Orange to give it warmth in daytime and at night lit up from the LED strips in the glimmering stainless steel handrails.


The bridge is a painted, airtight welded steel structure, carried by a central steel spine – a 75 cm box girder, from which a series of cantilevered struts, made of folded steel plates, carries the steel plate deck. We aimed for a slim structure, with all parts being structural, hereby reducing the visual impact. We have strived for transparency and simplicity. Structural refinement. The parapet is conceived as a transparent film, no modular hierarchy. In essence underlining the fluidity of movement through space. Celebrating bike riding. Looking out and being seen. The parapet consists of inward leaning steel bars with a circular cross section with a stainless steel handrail.


Pavement & lighting

The anti-slip pavement consists of a granulated stone on an acrylic compound. The bridge is lit from LED strip lighting built into the parapet handrail. The thin vertical post are backlit at night highlighting the winding path.

In 2013 DISSING+WEITLING architecture was presented with the “Raise the Bar” prize from the municipality of Copenhagen, given for the initiative to promote an idea, which reached beyond the assigned brief. In 2014 Cykelslangen won the WAN Transport Award. The judges all recognized the elegance and ingenuity of the design and felt the architects had responded well to the challenges of the brief. The Bicycle Snake: “An elevated (literally and figuratively) response to a simple problem; adapted to local culture. Simple. Elegant. Joyous.” Cykelslangen recently won the prestigious “Store Arne” Award, named after the famous Danish architect Arne Jacobsen, given by the Danish Architect’s Asociation at the Association’s New Year’s reception.

text&images: d+w


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