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Delays are water under the bridge as Olafur Eliasson unveils new project in Copenhagen

Ship-themed pedestrian crossing finally complete two years after originally planned

A pedestrian bridge in Copenhagen that resembles a small fleet of ships, designed by the artist Olafur Eliasson, has finally been completed, two years later than originally planned. “Cirkelbroen” (The Circle Bridge), which crosses a canal in the Christianshavn neighbourhood in the centre of the Danish capital, is due to open on Saturday, 22 August. Its design will remind visitors of the area’s maritime history as well as the many houseboats that are still part of the neighbourhood, the artist says.

The bridge is made up of five round, interlocking platforms in different sizes, arranged in a way so that to walk or bike across it, one has to follow a meandering path. “In contrast to the long, straight waterfront, Cirkelbroen will reduce speeds, change the direction of gazes, and invite people to take a break,” Eliasson says “Hesitating en route is a bodily thought—and there is room for such thoughts in Copenhagen’s urban spaces.”

Each of the bridge’s platforms has a towering mast and sail-like suspension wires, with the decks enclosed by a curving wooden rail, creating the appearance of a small flotilla of boats. The bridge pivots open around one of the platforms to allow larger ships to pass through the canal.

Eliasson was first asked to design the bridge in 2009, but the project became delayed after the contractor chosen for the construction went bankrupt. There was also some resistance from residents who were concerned the bridge would ruin their view. The city council only voted to approve the project at the start of this year, and it cost 80m Danish kroner ($12m) to build, funded by the Nordea foundation. Around 5,000 cyclists and pedestrians are expected to cross Cirkelbroen every day.