Bruges Triennial: India to the rescue!

Bridge by the Canal is India's contribution to the art Triennial in Bruges. The work of art was designed by Studio Mumbai that combines the skills of architects with those of craftsmen.

Michel Dewilde is one of the curators of the Triennial: "The result is Bridge by the Canal, one of the many works of art dotted about the city of Bruges as part of the Triennial. Studio Mumbai designed its original bridge house in India and all the parts too were manufactured by a group of 50 craftsmen there. The results were then put on the plane to Belgium."

"The Bridge by the Canal is a new installation that is intended for use at an old location. You will find it on the edge of the city centre opposite an old house with a fire escape leading down to the waters of a canal. The fire escape can't really be used today because you need a boat in which to escape, but Studio Mumbai came up with a novel solution the bridge that can be placed across the canal to allow residents to escape in the event of a fire."

You will find the Bridge by the Canal on the banks of a canal opposite the house with the fire escape, but the designers believe the bridge can be used for much more: it can be a peaceful place of contemplation, a place to eat, sleep or meet people.

This layered quality and open functionality is often found in the work of Studio Mumbai. The bridge house also brings with it a taste of the megacity: the urgent lack of space and shortage of housing that leads to increasing numbers of people struggling to find adequate shelter.

The construction is reminiscent of famous medieval bridges, such as the Ponte Vecchio in Florence and Krämerbrücke in Erfurt, which also combine commercial and residential functions.

Bridge by the Canal is only one of 14 works of art that you will find across the city of Bruges as part of the Bruges Triennial. The curators of the art festival asked international artists to consider what would happen if the 5 million tourists that visit the West Flemish capital each and every year were to stay here. Today more and more of the world's population is gathering in the big cities, but in Bruges, as a result of its historical value and protected status, there are major constraints on urban development. The results of the artists' endeavours are on view until 18 October.

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