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Freespan Bridge, The
Thesen Island, Knysna, Western Cape

Michael P (Mike) LOUW: Design Architect
Michael P (Mike) LOUW: Project Architect


The Freespan bridge ("Bridge 16") is situated on Thesen Islands in Knysna. It completes the pedestrian link from the residential portion of the islands to the commercial area called Harbour Town and is a continuation of the route that crosses the two Monorail bridges. Due to the width of this particular canal, the difficulty (and cost) involved with piling and the sensitive nature of the site, the only viable option was steel. A suspension bridge with pylons on both sides of the canal was considered and discarded due to cost constraints and the impact it would have had on the views from the surrounding houses. This led to the idea of a freespan bridge.

We decided on a tubular "spaceframe" structure to keep the size of individual members down, to minimise the visual impact and because we believed it would work well aesthetically. To work out the design in order to span the required 46 metres, calculate the sizes and install the bridge were all challenges in their own right. The entire steel structure was erected in less than a day and the bridge had to be assembled from both sides of the canal.

(Mike Louw - April 2013)

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.