Amsterdam Spolia

Buiksloterham is a new neighborhood in the north of Amsterdam. The post-industrial development is centered around making the circular economy a reality. Six new bridges will be built in this new neighborhood and the ambition is to only use re-used material.

AmsterdamSpolia is the first bridge to be built in Amsterdam using 100% re-cycled materials. The main components of the bridge are two large beams that were taken from an old rail bridge in the center of town. The steel beams were re-used without any modifications and precisely repositioned in order to fit the site and create a pedestrian connection to the waterfront. Wood from old quays is refurbished and precisely milled and cut for all the elements that can be touched by users. Custom details were made so that all the connections are slightly spaced creating independently legible parts into a new comprehensive whole.

Circular Design process

Re-use is an exciting material strategy in contemporary desig, but also has roots in ancient architecture. When resources are scarce, re-using materials has always been a practical building practice. Besides helping the environment, re-use also offers symbolic and representational possibilities based on the materials’ life cycle. It’s fascinating to think about what previous purposes the materials served, like the bridge, for example. In ancient Rome, the practice of Spolia, using and re-purposing various ornaments, communicated continuity or change in power structures.

In conventional design, initial ideas come from testing with proxy materials, sketches, references, and imagination. However, in a circular design process, a more scavenger-like approach is required. Collage is used to bring together different building materials into a new whole. In contemporary circular design, this often results in bold contrasts and an aesthetic that celebrates rawness. But in our design, we aimed to show something different. We wanted to demonstrate that re-use can also lead to more refined and elegant architecture.


Program: Bridge for pedestrians and cyclists
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Client:Gemeente Amsterdam

Partners: van Hattum en Blankevoort, Meerdink bruggen
Year: 2024
Status: under construction