Northern Spire

Structural Designer

BuroHappold and Roughan & O’Donovan JV

Client Name

Sunderland City Council


Sunderland, UK

Farrans - Victor Buyck JV

Explorations Architecture

Safetrack Associates - Health and safety advisor
Ramboll - Independent checking engineer
VSL - Cable stay supplier
AECOM - Client engineering advisor
Atkins - Overseeing organisation
Strasky Husty and Partners Ltd - Specialist engineering advisor


The Northern Spire (New Wear Crossing) is a striking new road bridge.The 340m bridge deck was assembled on the river bank and launched across the river on temporary supports.

The 105m high steel pylon was fabricated in one piece, delivered to site by sea then raised vertical using cables.

Judge's comment:

The judges applaud the close cooperation between the client, designers and contractors exhibited here to deliver a complex structure to a high standard within a tight timescale.

The incremental deck launch and pylon lift demonstrate creative engineering. The 105m high, 1550t steel pylon was fabricated in one piece, delivered to site by water from the Belgium workshop and then raised to vertical using cables.

The bold decision to fabricate the entire pylon off-site and deliver it in one piece resulted in better quality control and a reduced programme of on-site works.

This in turn meant less risk of weather disruption and improved safety.

To lift the pylon into place temporary hinges were provided on top of the concrete “tusks” at the base of the pylon and a temporary back mast was fitted.

The pylon hoisted vertical from a barge using high capacity strand jacks. A test lift was undertaken to check the mass and balance of the pylon.

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