The rising number of elderly and people with special needs underlines the importance of making public places more accessible. A spectacular set of glass-encased elevator and elevated walkway has been created by architecture studio Vaumm in order to improve access between the new and historic centers of Spanish town Hernani.
Both the old and new parts of Hernani’s town centre are separated by a steep grassy bank dividing the historic center at the top from a sports complex and a medical centre. This created problems that were difficult to negotiate for some older residents. In order to improve the connection to the newly developed part of town, San Sebastian-based architecture studio Vaumm created a new metal-framed structure incorporating a lift, staircase and an elevated walkway. According to statement from the chief architect Iñigo García Odiaga, “The new infrastructure (including the elevator and the footbridge) will improve the accessibility between the new developments of the town and the historical and commercial centre”. The improvement of accessibility is a prime concern due to the complex topography of the territory and the increasing aging population.
A ridged concrete tower partially embedded in to the grassy slope provides access to the lift. It stops at a midway point below the walkway to connect with a secondary bridge that provides access to the sports centre. This section of the bridge shelters the entrance to the lift at the ground level.
The elevator with a concrete base offers stunning views above the urban landscape and in to the countryside beyond the town. The decked bridge extends out from the elevator tower over the slope and rests one end on an old stone retaining wall at the top. The bridge widens as it approached the wall joined by a broad walkway. The main aim was to invite passersby to approach. A flight of stairs runs up the slope below the walkway, thereby by providing an alternative route when the elevator is in use.