No replacement of Venice’s Accademia Bridge
The ‘temporary’ wooden Accademia Bridge (see image below) will not be replaced by a new wooden and steel structure, as announced by Venice’s Public Works Councillor Alessandro Maggioni on 30 November 2011. Even though the proposed replacement was commended by Maggioni for its design (see image below) and being economical, he stated that the primary reason for rejecting the replacement is the current lack of funding. The cost of the replacement is estimated to be €6 million, as noted in the Venice daily newspaper La Nuova Venezia on 30 November 2011.
Maggioni acknowledged during a press conference on 30 November 2011 that replacing this bridge is one of the more important projects in the city, but argued that it is not an urgent priority. This is despite the heavy flow of pedestrians over this bridge, which is one of only four bridges over Venice’s Grand Canal.
After many recent incidents when this much-used bridge has caught on fire, one wonders just how long it will take to find an alternative since the creation of the ‘temporary’ wooden bridge in 1932-3. Although the wooden structure was renovated in 1985-6, it has existed as a temporary replacement for the iron Accademia Bridge since this was demolished in 1932-3. Englishman Alfred Neville designed the iron Accademia Bridge (see image below), which was completed in 1854. “Neville’s Accademia bridge, one of the most anathematized features of Venice at the time of its demolition in 1933, was praised by the Illustrated London News as a ‘handsome structure’ with ‘elegance of form’,” writes John Pemble in his book Venice Rediscovered (1996, 125). Nevertheless, this iron bridge became a victim of conservationist pressure. “Neville’s bridge had a relatively brief existence: it was demolished in 1932 as it was increasingly felt that its design was out of sympathy with the environment,” explains Margaret Plant in her book Venice: Fragile City. 1797-1997 (2002, 147).
Just imagine if the iron Accademia Bridge had not been demolished, Venice might not be facing the embarrassment of being unable to replace a ‘temporary’ bridge for almost eighty years!
This is the latest episode in many Venetian ‘bridge battles’ examined in my book ‘Venice in Environmental Peril? Myth and Reality’, which will be published by UPA in the USA in early 2012.
Drawing of the iron Accademia Bridge:
Wooden Accademia Bridge:
Proposed replacement design: