A new generation of engineers and architects are designing bold and innovative bridges. These new bridge designs focus on improving functionality, aesthetics, safety, and sustainability of bridges in modern cities and countries around the world. Here are five examples of high-tech bridges that address these goals in new and creative ways.
Rolling Bridge in London
Conceived by Thomas Heatherwick and designed by award-winning Heatherwick Studio, this pedestrian bridge spans a small inlet of the Grand Union Canal at Paddington Basin, London. The crucial aspect of the design was that the bridge had to move to allow boat access to the small inlet behind it. The design firm’s solution was to allow it to fold completely up into a circular sculpture that sits on the bank of the canal.
It does this with an elegant design of hydraulic rams integrated into its balustrade and triangular sections that allow it to fold in this unique way. The bridge was constructed at Littlehampton Welding on the coast of Sussex and won the studio a number of accolades, including an Emerging Architecture award.
The Moses Bridge in the Netherlands
In the seventeenth century, a series of moats and fortresses were built over the West Brabant Water Line region of the Netherlands to fend off possible invasions from France and Spain. The moat of one Dutch fort, called the Fort de Roovere, was for centuries too deep to march across on foot, but too shallow for boats, and therefore remained untouched until today.
The Moses Bridge, designed by RO & AD Architects, is made of certified sustainable Accsys Technologies’ Accoya® wood, but the most striking part of the bridge is its design. It is invisible from afar, but when approached, the low bridge seems to literally part the waters in order to allow access to the Dutch fortress.
Tullhus Bridge in Sweden
A bridge in Norrköping taking cyclists and pedestrians from Strömsholmen to the north quay in the city center has been on the urban design books for years, but it wasn’t until 2012 that it was actually constructed. The bridge, designed by Erik Andersson Architects, has an hourglass shape that tapers in towards the middle. The bridge spans seventy-two meters long from bank to bank.
The striking innovation of this bridge is its built-in hot air system. The system heats the bridge, keeping snow clear in the winter. The construction process was complex and involved prefabrication, welding, sandblasting, and transporting in a single piece for three kilometers. Welded plates comprise the body and the walkway is covered with a layer of acrylate. Its handrails have a built-in LED system to light the bridge at night. The design won Erik Andersson Architects the Swedish Steel Prize and the European Steel Award of 2013.
Cycle Snake in Copenhagen
Cykelslangen, or Cycle Snake, is an elevated, orange, bicycle bridge connecting the highway and the harbor bridge over the water. The bridge is four meters wide and 190 meters long with a thirty-meter onramp.
The bridge was built to ease transportation for bike owners. Before its construction the only way to take the route involved carrying bikes up steps and squeezing them along narrow spaces shared with pedestrians. Now the bicycles can ride through the sky, one-story high, leaving passengers beneath them.
Kurilpa Bridge in Australia
The Kurilpa Bridge was designed to embody the informal, yet active character of the city of Brisbane. The bridge was designed for pedestrians and cyclists, and includes two large viewing and relaxation platforms, two rest areas, and a continuous canopy over the whole structure. Its north side runs over an expressway, and the southern sides span across the riverbank, spirals, and ends at the Gallery of Modern Art.
The bridge, designed by architects Cox Rayner and engineers Arup, is constructed with a “tensegrity” structure. “Tensegrity” is a word combining “tension” and “integrity,” and refers to the system of cables in tension and tubes in compression integrated into a structural harmony that supports the weight of thousands of pedestrians and cyclists. As a result, the design looks sculptural, almost like modern art, in the way that its many masts and cables seem to stick out at random.
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