The helix bridge is inspired by the geometric arrangement of a DNA strand transformed into a walkway encaged by a complementary double-helical structure in stainless steel. The execution of this masterpiece was done in Marina Bay city of Singapore in the year 2010. It took approximately 6 years for the completion of this project. This bridge is elevated to 9 m from the river level.
The bridge spans 285 m over the Singapore River from the Bayfront area and central business district. This stunning structure is a part of a 3.5 km long waterfront promenade. It also acts as the crossing and place of relief for many residents and tourists who come here simply for a stroll and to enjoy a wow experience in this urbanscape. This explicit Twisting structure connects one side of the shore to the other shore of the river sure.
Singapore has a dense urban environment and the local planners pay keen attention to the development of the city’s urban design. Designers here are greatly influenced by using low maintenance, aesthetically appealing and sustainable material palette.
The main intent for designing this bridge was to have a structure with an enhanced delicacy that omitted the bulky nature of a vehicular bridge. Implementation of conceptual designs is sometimes tricky here because of the hot and humid environmental conditions.
Whatsoever the challenges may be posed, materials like stainless steel adhere to these demands and give designers an ideal choice. Varieties of grades are available for stainless steel and it is corrosion resistant as well, thus it proves as a durable low maintenance solution.
In plan, this pedestrian bridge has been curved just so the overall pedestrian footfall is distanced from the cars. To further suffice the functionality, it connects to the vehicular bridge at just one point. As mentioned earlier, apart from serving the purpose of commuting or walking on this bridge it is also a trail in itself. It connects major public realms and attractions like Marina Bay Sands resorts and the national performing arts Centre.
Usage of the glass openings on the floor provides a connection to the water below. There are four observation decks or viewing platforms that offer a 360° breath-taking view of the Singapore skyline. This feature provides an amazing vantage point.
There goes a common saying that, the dream of an architect is an engineer‘s nightmare. However, this is not true for the helix bridge. Using the structural optimisation software, the design of this bridge was visualised. It enabled a method to find the linking of the two helices. This also gave viable solutions to achieve the structural stability of this bridge.
During the daytime, the bridge’s unusual canopy offers a dynamic spatial experience. And at night, with the use of the technology of LED ribbon lights, the entire bridge is illuminated magnificently after the sunset. The lights focus on the two twisting helix tubes after which the bridge has been named. The entire span of 2 to 85 m is completed using three 65 m spans and two 45 m spans of steel tubes.
This Bridge can support 16,000 people at a particular time. As approved by Singapore urban development authority the bridge was constructed in duplex stainless steel. Each member of the bridge was crafted in a minimal dimension of tubes which were 273MM in diameter. This design style reduced the amount of steel needed five times because of the DNA strands’ form.
At times on the first impression, the bridge might appear to be incapable of carrying substantial loads. However, the two delicate health structures act together as a tubular truss. Light and design were done by the designers and for sizes on the curvature of the bridge. Outward reflecting lights accentuate the curvilinear members and another set of inward reflecting lights illuminate the internal canopy of glass and steel mesh to create a dynamic membrane of light.
To guide the path for pedestrians the inner helix uses white lights. The lighting is done in pairs like the chemicals which run in pairs in the DNA strands. These lightened-up spirals give an even more sensational experience to the users.
As it may appear, the bridge is intricate and extremely complicated. Rather than using a simple wire mesh along with steel rods, the Cox group of architects and Arup’s engineering used Helix as the base shape and phenomenal design model. The drawings of the bridge depict everlasting abundance, continuity, growth and renewal.
The Helix bridge offers an essential public link along with the cultural benefits and has both practical and aesthetic purposes. The net-like canopy represents the Singaporean fishing nets. Some may call the entire stretch of the bridge a twisted molecular walk as one cannot see the other end of the bridge while walking.
As a result, the excitement never dies and you unfold new things as you walk ahead. This architectural wonder was felicitated with the ‘Transport Architecture Award’ during the World Architectural festival of Barcelona in 2010.