“There can be little doubt that in many ways the story of bridge building is the story of civilisation. By it we can readily measure an important part of a people's progress.”
― Franklin D Roosevelt
Bridges are one of the greatest manifestations of the art and science of structural engineering, and two of the last five winners of our Supreme Award for Structural Engineering Excellence – the highest accolade we have for engineering achievement – have been bridges.
Here we look at five examples of previous winning and commended bridge projects, which illustrate well the enormous variety and innovation in modern bridge design.
Muregeya Bridge, Rwanda (Winner, Award for Sustainability, 2014)
The first bridge across the Muregeya River in Western Rwanda created a life-changing piece of infrastructure for local people. The simple 50m bridge is the pilot scheme for a learning resource intended to help developing countries design and construct their own suspension bridges.
The bridge has already had a huge impact on around 10,000 Rwandans, allowing them to cross the river in safety, and opened up access to a school, hospital and markets.
Peace Bridge, Northern Ireland (Commended, Award for Pedestrian Bridges, 2012)
The Peace Bridge is a unique, double curvature, self-anchored suspension bridge for pedestrians and cyclists, providing an important link across the River Foyle between the historic city centre of Derry, Londonderry and a major re¬ development at the former Ebrington Barracks.
It also stands as a symbolic landmark of the highest quality, providing a unifying, 'neutral' crossing between the two banks of the River Foyle - two areas previously divided by conflict.
Stonecutters Bridge, Hong Kong, China (Winner, Supreme Award for Structural Engineering Excellence, 2010)
This enormous bridge is an amazing example of large urban infrastructure. It has a main span of 1,018 m (3,340 ft), making it the third-longest cable-stayed span in the world.
Connecting Nam Wan Kok, Tsing Yiisland and Stonecutters Island, it mounts three lanes of traffic in each direction – yet has to withstand typhoons that are common in the area.
Footbridge over the Bow, Canada (Winner, Award for Pedestrian Bridges, 2014)
This 80 m clear span footbridge over the Bow River is a remarkable example of engineers building a structure in a sensitive environment. Using timber expertise, the bridge is not only a striking new landmark but an essential piece of infrastructure, carrying much needed drainage systems in this pristine national park.
Engineers achieved the minimal slender form by controlling vibrations with a pair of unique tuned mass dampers that address walking and jogging frequencies.
Lower Hatea Bridge Crossing, New Zealand (Winner, Award for Small Practices, 2014)
This is a great example of engineers creating a beautiful major public landmark, as well as providing an important new link.
The 265m long Crossing reduces traffic congestion around the northern coastal city of Whangarei, New Zealand, raising to allow river traffic. At the same time its striking design reflects the Maori culture and people, modelled on a traditional fish hook design.
For more information about previous Structural Award winners visit the website here.