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Seppeler Bridge – County Garden Show Rietberg 2008

The bridge, a widespread symbol for getting over ditches and the connection across separating boundaries. This is also the fundamental idea for the commitment of the Seppeler Group, to get involved in the topic of “culture meets nature” at the county garden show 2008 in Rietberg with a bridge. Of course the hot dip galvanizing was carried out in the Rietbergwerke. It was then coated with red.

The bridge is a gift from Seppeler Holding to the town of Rietberg and an expression of the close connection of the Seppeler family to their home town. Below, Professor Eberhard Fiebig, renowned sculptor of the present and designer of the Seppeler bridge, describes how the bridge came about and explains what is special about its construction inspired by Arthur Vierendeel.

People still say that building bridges is the most prestigious discipline in architecture. Every bridge that we see still arouses our attention and interest. Even though all shapes and construction methods of bridge building have seemed familiar to us for a long time, we have found that no bridge is like another. Even if the material and construction are the same. It is also astonishing that the small wooden bridge which reaches across a stream, is no less interesting to us than the mighty steel bridge.

This is perhaps due to the fact that anyone who has to design and construct a bridge, is faced with a task that requires him to behave as if the bridge he is planning, is the first bridge ever.

The bridge that my friend Bliese and I had the honour of designing, is a small bridge. It is supposed to connect the opposite banks of a man-made lake. It is not a bridge to be used by road traffic. It is intended as a bridge that invites the pedestrians to saunter across the lake. Accordingly, this bridge should not rise above the landscape as a technical monument. It is supposed to naturally blend into the harmony of the landscape.

A task which is easier said than done.

Because, as the bank points of the bridge are only a maximum of 0.8 metres above the surface of the water, it was impossible to place a load bearing construction underneath the transport level of the bridge. More than 50% of it would have been in the water. Placing the load-bearing construction in the form of an arc above the walking level, would have led to a bridge, which would surely have satisfied all the technical requirements, but would not have fit in harmoniously with the landscape. The same applies for every construction, where the bridge is hung on a pylon using cables. None of the usual construction forms led to a satisfactory solution for us.

So, we brought ourselves back to a state, as if we had to redesign the bridge as a structure. We strove to forget everything that we knew about bridges, and asked ourselves the naive question of what is the key to a bridge. Thereby, we made ourselves aware of which elements every bridge consists of: the load-bearing construction, the walking level and the railings. As it transpired that there was no load-bearing construction, which could fulfil our demands regarding form, we finally dared to think of designing the railings in such a way, that they take on the function of the load bearing construction, but at the same time, also fulfils all the requirements that a railing must satisfy.

Without knowing it, we had chosen a very rare construction, which is called the Vierendeel girder. This construction consists of horizontal belts and vertical posts (without diagonals), which are welded together with flexural rigidity.

In order to give the bridge a uniform appearance, we limited ourselves to two profiles when selecting the pipe cross sections. For the belts, a cross section of 300 x 100 mm and for the posts a cross section of 100 x 100 mm was chosen. As the foot walk we decided to use grating elements, which are designed in such a way on the head sides, that they can be placed between the posts, like planks on the lower belts. Whereby the bridge, which would be given a red coating, will be clearly recognisable in this stage of its construction as well.

At first glance, it is certainly not a bridge that will surprise with its sensational construction.

"It is rather one of those easy things, that are hard to do.”

Professor Eberhard Liebig born in 1930, is one of the renowned artists of contemporary sculpture. He is represented by his works in numerous public and private collections. Many of his works stand in front of prestigious buildings and in prominent locations: including in front of the Federal Ministry of Defence, the Hessischen Rundfunk [Hessian Broadcasting Corporation] and the University of Kassel. In 1991 Professor Fiebig converted the logo of the Seppeler Group into the form of a three-dimensional hot dip galvanized sculpture.

Further references of the Seppeler Group

Bilster Berg Drive Resort

Division: Hot dip galvanizing

Everything Under One Roof

Divisions: Hot dip galvanizing/Coating