Normally, we think of buildings when we look at iconic glass structures. Today, we go a little off the beaten path, and with good reason. The Old Port Footbridge in Bremerhaven, Bremen Germany connects the Klimahaus and the Columbus Center in one of the oldest sections of this northern port city. The bridge, which is made primarily of glass, traverses the River Weser.
Because of its strategic location, Bremerhaven has long played an important role in both Germany’s military and maritime trade history. Although much of the surrounding city was destroyed during World War II, the port was largely spared because of its strategic value to Allied forces. In 2016, Bremerhaven is a key player in container shipping, and in fact, it is the 16th-largest container port in the world, and the fourth-largest in Europe, handling millions of containers from all over the world.
The area also pays homage to its maritime history. The city hosts several museum ships from various points in history. The oldest example dates back to the late 14th century and was excavated from the city in 1962. The city also hosts museum ships from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, as well as a World War II vintage U-boat. The city also hosts the Lloyd-Werft shipyard, which specializes in building and refurbishing ultra-large cruise ships.
The Old Port Footbridge connects the Columbus Center (a massive shopping mall) with the Klimahaus exhibition center, which was opened in 2009, the same year the bridge was put into service. The bridge itself can be swung to a 90° angle to permit maritime traffic to pass. This doesn’t regularly occur, but since the area hosts several museum ships, some of which still operate, the bridge needs to be able to move to allow the ships to pass. The middle section of the bridge is designed to be mobile.
The bridge consists of 336 individually crafted glass panels, which are specially designed and placed to minimize heat gain inside the tunnel. In addition, operable windows at the top of the bridge provide additional ventilation.
A cement sidewalk is found in the center of the path. Both sides of the path are surrounded by glass flooring, which is safe to walk on. The glass floor is laminated with a special slip-resistant screen printing, and is lit from below at night.
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Photo Credit: Herr Olsen , via Flickr.com