Mary Elmes Bridge

Structural Designer


Client Name

Cork City Council


Cork City, Ireland

WilkinsonEyre Architects

L&M Keating Ltd.

Thompson of Carlow
  Images: © 1&2 - Arup, 3 - Henry O'Brien


A bridge designed to create a shared space for pedestrians and cyclists. The slender, single span, steel shallow arch features a central ‘spine beam’. This emerges progressively from below deck to above deck, creating distinct user pathways. Sustainability and constructability combined with engineering and architectural expertise to produce this elegant bridge.

Submitted in 2020

Judge's comment:

Cork’s newest pedestrian and cycling bridge using a considered design to enhance connectivity in the area, in a way that was sympathetic to the existing fabric of the city and easy to install within the confined urban environment. 

The structural system for the single span is provided by a central box girder, curved in both vertical and horizontal planes and whose flexural stiffness is augmented by the effect of the shallow arch and cantilevered pedestrian walkway, thereby improving the slenderness and general aesthetic.

The engineers demonstrated great consideration for ease of constructability. The bridge was fabricated off site in nine sections and transported by special barge up-river for final erection. The semi-elliptical arched shape allowed the ends of the bridge to be submerged, ensuring sufficient clearance between the underside of existing bridges and the riverbed during a four hour window over high tide.  Accuracy for this was essential given that the tolerance between the riverbed and the lowest existing bridge deck soffit was approximately 400mm. 

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