Bridges and their meaning

Two people standing on each side of a gap with the word "WORDS" bridging the gap

The bridge in language and as metaphor

Drawings and text by Frits Ahlefeldt

Bridges – common way to get across gaps, both in the landscapes and “bridging” people, understandings, differences, opinions and cultures… Bridges are used a lot both in language and in landscape planning, both it is not always that bridges make sense

Two people standing on each side of a gap with the word "WORDS" bridging the gap
Words can work as bridges

Bridges and walls

drawing of a long wall, being build and with bridges being build across it. Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt
When bridge and wall builders compete

Sometimes the bridges are bridging walls, setting up limits and borders are often used in connection with openings, where there are no natural borders or gaps, ( rivers, oceans, or other divide )  Here the bridge-wall zig-zag logic of many systems can get quite strange.

Bridges to nowhere

Drawing of a bridge out over the ocean to nowhere and two people saying maybe we should build a boat instead...
Bridges to nowhere – not all bridges make sense

Some bridges are going nowhere, old bridges over railroads, no longer there, dried out lakes and bridges that never made it across, left as monuments of great ambition, but not the same level of commitment and fulfilling those ambitions.  Sometimes it is better to build a boat…

Bridge builders

Drawing of two persons standing on each side of an almost finished bridge, ready to put the last stones in, and making it a bridge
Bridge builders are a very used metaphor in group dynamics, psychology and community talks

Many facilitators, conflict experts and counselors describe themselves as “bridge builders” using the bridge metaphor to explain how they close the gap and create better understanding – by using the bridge metaphor

Love builders


A special bridge situation is the “love builders, where the bridge is shaped as a heart. Where the bridge is not only about practical, sustainable solutions, but also about passion, feelings, relationships etc.

Relationship bridges

drawing of a bridge consisting of people
Relationship bridges, when networks create solutions

Some bridges, especially today, where more and more is about digital solutions, likes and networks, are the relationship bridges. This kind of bridge is both very classic, leading back to when all we could build with were our tribeal networks and relationships, jumping into the near future, where more and more solutions are handled, not by experts, but by networks.