Westbury Pedestrian Bridge and Park

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Client: Johannesburg Development Agency 
Appointment Date: 2013 
Completion Date: 2015 
Build Period: 8 months 
Construction Budget: USD991,450 
Area: 4500m² 
Address: Cnr. Fuel Rd & Kretzchmar Str. Westbury 2093 
City: Johannesburg 

Westbury Pedestrian Bridge comprises a pedestrian bridge with access to a BRT station, an amphitheater and a park. This project forms part of a broader precinct plan, an NMT network, also conducted by Local Studio in the area. Initial research established that the on-grade crossing between Coronationville and Westbury was extremely dangerous for pedestrians, particularly school children. This design tries to combine a bridge and a public recreational space to encourage usage and general safety.

The architecture of the bridge itself is governed by a need to create a landmark, while promoting the concept of ephemerality. It was very important that the bridge didn’t appear to be an extravagance in the community and that it blended in, with humility, while still being a point of pride. The resultant design, made up of a pragmatic expression of structural members combined with expanded metal mesh, all painted in a “signal red” colour, resembles the temporary scaffolding bridges built during several highway construction projects in Johannesburg.

Since its completion in 2016, the bridge and park have become a popular meeting place for the Westbury community, with the park amphitheatre functioning as an event space at weekends. The area continues to display disproportionate levels of youth unemployment and drug-abuse, which has meant that the disabled-access elevators and generator were recently dismantled for scrap-metal. Despite being lauded a success by the city of Johannesburg, the municipal bodies responsible for ongoing maintenance and security of public spaces like this have displayed atrocious neglect, further worsening an already-strained relationship with the community.