Architecture for Humanity has been running a contest to design a safe footbridge spanning the railway at Trestles Beach in California. At this popular surf spot, there's not even so much as a level crossing at present, so the need for a bridge seems fairly obvious.
Out of 104 entries, they've recently announced the five finalists. As ever, I'm amazed at the outpouring of creative energy that can be engendered by contests like this, where there's no funding available to actually build a bridge, let alone to pay a designer, and there's not even a clear client who might actually promote the scheme (however, the finalists do each get a US$5,000 prize).
From that perspective, it's somehow irrelevant who actually wins, and clearly many entrants just see the contest as a good opportunity to get their name in the press, such as 24° Studio, whose wooden wave bridge can be found at inhabitat.com, or Dan Brill, whose weathering steel design graces Dezeen, Building Design, e-architect, trendhunter and others, mainly as a result of being the only UK semi-finalist. It might seem churlish to point out the folly of a weathering steel structure located within a few metres of the sea and its salty spray, but I imagine it would be as easy to pick holes in other entries, given that many entrants have no engineer on their team nor does there seem to be one on the jury. This is a bridge design competition in the vein of a fashion show, as is still so often the case.
The full 104 entries can be found on the Open Architecture website, but here are the five finalists. Links go to more detailed information on each entry. Click any image for a larger version.
kola / kle
CO-LAB design office
Murphy Burnham & Buttrick / Hage Engineering / Fieldwork
Ken Smith Landscape Architect Workshop West