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Restoration of the Pont Trencat

Sant Celoni, Spain
1 of 19

The contribution of the present project lies in the originality of the taken solution and the way it fits with the existing remains of the old bridge.


In 1811, during the Napoleonic Wars, the main arch of the "Pont Trencat" was destroyed. No one tried to repair it for almost one hundred and ninety years until 1996, when people from the two villages the bridge links, Sant Celoni and Santa Maria de Palautordera, situated fifty kilometers north-east of Barcelona, decided to raise funds to carry out its restoration.

Archaeological works and documentary research were firstcommissioned to obtain the information available about the history and the construction sequence of the bridge. Remains of the disappeared arch were found as well as part of the old pavement on both banks. Despite it is said to be a Roman bridge, it is placed on the Roman Via Augustea.

The date is not sure when the existing part was constructed but documents were found showing that in 1453 important works were made. It is quite likely that the current shape, with its pointed arch, dates from then.

Design approach

The main issue designers had to deal with was about what kind of action designers should carry out. Since their goal was to recover its functionality - only for pedestrians - they had to choose between giving the damaged monument its original shape back or rebuilding the missing part in a new way, different from what it looked like before. It was a difficult decision and they knew that both options would be controversial.

Since the bridge was destroyed long time ago, nobody knew what it actually looked like before it collapsed. If the designers had tried to give the bridge its original shape back they would have had to make up all the information we lack. Also, people were used toseeing its broken shape, its name, "El Pont Trencat", means The Broken Bridge.

Following the ideas of some famous restoration theoreticians, such as the Austrian Alois Riegl (1858-1905) and the Italian Camillo Boito (1835-1914), they thought it would be better to reerect the missing part with a modern structure in a way that reflected the contrast between the new work and the existing remains rather than trying to make a mimetic reproduction.


The structure constructed consists of a two span box girder deck, 3.00 meters in depth, supported by three pairs of bearings, two at both ends and the intermediate one placedover the crown of a hollow box pointed arch, spanning 24 meters. To emphasize the old silhouette, the parapets of the deck are extended along the remaining structure. The top line of the new deck and the intrados of the steel arch follow the shape of the old bridge so the new structure tries toevoke the missing silhouette of the original bridge.

Construction phases

The works were divided into three phases. In the first one they consolidated and repaired the existing remains trying to follow a non-interventional attitude. They avoided anything that could change its traditional appearance and, when it wasn't possible, for instance when they had to reinforced the bottom of the lateral walls because of some underminings, designers underlined their intervention using a completely different material, in this case, concrete. The new foundation was also carried out of the arch on the right bank.

In the second phase the abutments of the deck were made;one on the existing remains, and the other one on the left bank. The steel structure was constructed seventy kilometres away from the work side, and transported in five pieces, three for the deck and two for the arch. First of all the two parts of the arch were lifted, which were welded to each other in the crown. For the deck, before it was erected, two of its parts were welded and then installed in two pieces welded to each other on site.

In the third phase the pavement was made. Over the bridge timber pavement was used in order to provide pedestrians a warmer and more tactile material in contrast with the coldness of the steel. On both approaches the pavement was a combination made of rose granite stone and washed concrete pieces. The street lighting over the bridge was placed into the parapets of the deck. At the ends, on each side, some modern lampposts were installed. The monumental lighting was placed on the lateral slopes, over the maximum floodlevel.

Desiners hope that with their proposal they recovered the bridge's use, but, in some way, the bridge keeps on being broken.

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  1. Restoration of the Pont Trencat (Text by Xavier Font)
mariathuroczy, January 26th, 2015
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