French Jewish architect Marc Mimram has an idea that borders on the utopian: to build a huge, multistoried bridge stretching 37 kilometers in order to physically connect the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the two areas under Palestinian Authority rule.
The plan, made public for the first time in the pages of Haaretz, is for a bridge that would rise to a height of 20 meters above the ground, with steel or concrete columns at 250-meter intervals. The bottom story is designated for desalinated water; the two next stories are for vehicle traffic; above them, another waterway brings salt water from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea, topped by a story with two-way railroad tracks.
Mimram developed this plan independently in his Paris office, and paid for it out of his own pocket. One of his students at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, the third generation in a family of architects from Bethlehem, pleaded with him to present it to his parents. Three weeks ago, Mimram came here for a short visit and talked with Palestinian VIPs.
At the cafe where we met, Mimram used a napkin and a pen to explain. “When you create new crossing infrastructure, you contribute to both the places that are connected,” he said, drawing a line from right to left. “But at the same time, you hamper the places that are left out.” Mimram gestures with his hand above the line. “I am interested in seeing how infrastructure can contribute to the environment and what other roles it can fill.
“Bridges,” he continues, “are meant to cross geographic and social borders as well as landscapes. But they can be used to serve other goals. My bridge is a structure with mixed uses.”
For more, go to Haaretz.com