• 11.11.09

Demi-God of Art Designs Bridge

Olafur Eliasson’s design for a Copenhagen footbridge hides a subtle social agenda.

Demi-God of Art Designs Bridge

Recently it was announced that Olafur Eliasson–a giant of contemporary art–was set to design a bridge in Copenhagen, and we’ve just received pictures of the project.


When it’s completed in 2012, the 32-meter Cirkelbroen (“circle bridge”) will connect Christianshavns Kanal and Applebys Plads, via a loopy, winding path. The span will also provide the final link across the many canals of Copenhagen’s inner harbour. Thus, the entire route will become traversable by foot or bike.

Eliasson might be best known for his Waterfalls project in New York, which was up last summer. But that project didn’t give a very clear idea of what his main obsessions are–he’s less into creating public spectacle than tweaking our perceptions in subtle ways.

For the bridge, his idea was to create a span with no straight path through–instead, it’s a series of five circular platforms. Rather than speeding people along, is slows them down, and creates a meandering public space. Visually, the masts of the platforms are meant to evoke a sailing ship, an icon of the city’s roots as a trading harbor. The entire project is expected to cost DKK 34 million ($6.8 million).

If you’re curious, here’s a couple of pieces that made Eliasson famous in the art world. The first was gigantic indoor sun and mirrored ceiling that he installed in the cavernous main hall of London’s Tate Modern:

Another is the fantastically beautiful and nearly impossible-to-photograph Beauty, which consists simply of a misting mechanism, a spotlight, and a darkened room. When you’re inside it, it seems like you’re walking through a rainbow-colored ghost:

Olafur Eliasson

About the author

Cliff is director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.