Published: 26 September 2016
Katalin Andrasi has been an engineer specialising in bridges for 18 years. Here she discusses her work on the new footbridge at Harlech Castle, one of the finest surviving 13th century military castles in Britain. The new pedestrian crossing, which allows visitors to follow the path of the original draw-bridge, is shortlisted in The Structural Awards 2016 “Pedestrian Bridges” category.
I wanted to be an engineer since I was a small child - I was really good at maths in primary school and I loved drawing and building things with my box of Lego. Building bridges is the essence of structural engineering – helping people travel freely and safely in a timely manner.
I am really proud of the success of the footbridge at Harlech Castle. It was my very first project as project manager from the beginning to the end and seeing it through to completion is very pleasing. The project also included the refurbishment of a 140 years old Victorian Hotel into a new state-of-the-art visitor centre and luxury self-catering apartments and the whole scheme truly transformed the whole visitor experience.
The project is really special to me. We worked together with the whole stakeholder team and the design is the direct product of our collective aspirations. Creating a solution that receives such an overwhelmingly positive reaction from both the profession and the public is truly satisfying. Working in a world heritage site made it extra special.
The key considerations when introducing a new piece of engineering to a heritage site are first understanding the ‘story’ of the site; second, minimising physical impact on the protected heritage elements; and third, ensuring the new structure is sympathetic to its surroundings and compliments it well.
I think the bridge accounts for all of these well: the footbridge follows the path of the original drawbridge, allowing visitors to enter as the original occupants would have, with the gatehouse ‘head on’, while its structural form fits well in its surroundings, keeping a low profile and creating a clean, visually unobtrusive structure. The project really does demonstrate that a structural engineering response to a brief and a site like this can achieve a beautiful and elegant structure. I would whole-heartedly recommend every reader to visit if they can.
Learn more about The Structural Awards.