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Stress ribbon bridges are an elegant form of construction found in various countries around the world. They use the theory of a catenary transmitting loads via tension in the deck to abutments which are anchored to the ground. The basic and most commonly found form consists of a precast concrete deck with steel tendons. This concept was first introduced by German engineer Ulrich Finsterwalder (1897-1988).
Stress ribbon bridges are quick and convenient to construct given appropriate conditions. They can be built with minimal impact to the surroundings and their slender form ensures a visually pleasing end result. A wide range of structures exist in Europe, USA and Japan, including multispan bridges, three way spans and long spans up to 150m built in urban, rural and mountainous areas.
The Pai Lin Li Travel Award 2008 was awarded by the Educational Trust of the Institution to spend up to 6 weeks abroad researching worldwide practices in the design and construction of stress ribbon bridges. Meetings were arranged with design engineers and researchers involved in this field in Germany, Czech Republic and Japan over a 4-week period. This paper summarises the results of this research and discusses reasons why this form is not currently popular in the UK.
Roma Agrawal, MA (Oxon), MSc, DICWSP Cantor Seinuk