A new bridge in the Netherlands is designed to do more than get people from A to B. The Paleisbrug, in the city of 's-Hertogenbosch, is a raised park, pedestrian bridge and cycle-link all in one. Designed by Benthem Crouwel Architects, the bridge joins the city center with its newly-developed Paleiskwartier district, which is home to the city's court building, university buildings, homes and offices.

Much of the surrounding area is said to remain undeveloped, due to having been flooded as a means of defending the city during the Eighty Year War. The bridge's location had the potential to provide excellent views of this now open, green area known as the Gement and, with this in mind, it was designed to be a destination in itself.

The Paleisbrug is 250 m (820 ft) long and 10 m (33 ft) wide, providing 2,500 sq m (26 900 sq ft) of park-like space for flora, fauna and leisure. There are four lanes in total, each 2 m (7 ft) wide, that alternate between flower beds and paving. Plants, trees, paving, furniture and lighting are integrated into the design using folded sheets of weather-proof steel, in which the bridge is also clad. The plants, benches and paths are lit up by LED lighting at night.

The plants and shrubs on the bridge are split into three distinct zones. On the city center side of bridge there are low, savannah-like plants and individual trees. Where the bridge crosses the railway, there are low plants to ensure the views of the Gement are not impeded. The planting on the Paleiskwartier side of the bridge is said to have a more forest-like character.

Plants on the bridge are watered using a drip-feed system that detects how much water is required. An overflow pipe, meanwhile, ensures that the plants don't receive too much water.

In order to keep the bridge free of ice during the winter, low-temperature floor-heating is installed. Benthem Crouwel explains that using road salt to clear ice is not an option, as it would kill the plants and affect the materials used. To ensure that the bridge remains sustainable, however, the heating is powered by a solar collector. Heat is collected in the summer and stored in a heat/cold storage unit. Surplus heat collected during the summer is supplied to the surrounding area.

The design of the Paleisbrug began in 2008. Construction started in 2012 and it was completed earlier this year. It has an expected lifespan of over 100 years.

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