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Bridge of Sighs opens for use

brug der zuchten

Jan Van Stigt Thans has been a regular client of Mei for over 20 years. Van Stigt Thans occupies is a refined and stylish listed building on Lange Nieuwstraat in Schiedam. Robert Winkel carried out restoration work on the building as early as the 1990s, and in 2003 Mei constructed a glazed addition on the ground floor to connect with an adjoining monumental warehouse bought by Van Stigt Thans.

Now that the top floor of both buildings will be used for residential purposes, Van Stigt Thans has asked Mei to construct a second connecting bridge. This is a complex challenge owing to the difficulty of bridging the height difference, the demands that come with working on a listed structure, and the need for privacy. The design proposal was immediately and enthusiastically received by the municipal design review committee for new building permits and monuments precisely because, in its proposal, Mei articulated its addition as a new layer of time. Mei succeeded in strengthening the value of the buildings by respecting and preserving their existing character.

The solution found by Mei did not involve repeating the glazed connection. Instead, it proposes a white ‘cloud’. The new bridge, a self-supporting structure of steel and glass, is faced in white, perforated steel panels. Refined, abstract 3D motifs that refer to the original cast-iron ornaments of the balconies of the listed building are incorporated into the panels by means of rubber presses. To ensure the privacy of occupants, what happens inside cannot be seen from outside, but occupants do enjoy views out of the building.

The design is measured by means of a point cloud and then the 3D-BIM model is elaborated on this scanned base layer. The bridge is reversible to allow future owners to remove it if desired. The warehouse can also be restored to its original condition because the openings made in the facade for the bridge have the same proportions as the original window frames.