Bridges have always been a subject of fascination displaying the marvels of engineering. They not only help in forming new transport routes saving travel time for expanding cities but also often become a civic spectacle, an iconic landmark for the city itself. Be it the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Bandra-Worli Sea Link in Mumbai, the Howrah Bridge in Kolkata, or the Tower Bridge in London, they all have become the identity of the city. The design of bridges is, however, often looked at as being a technical problem, something more in the engineers’ area of expertise. While the engineer does understand the technical concerns, the functionality, the seamless effective urban integration, and the aesthetic quality of these public work spectacles fall definitively in the architects’ domain. All over the world, several architecture practices have engaged time and again in designing some of the most iconic bridges that have extended the very idea of the purpose of the bridge.
Here is a list of 15 architecture firms designing bridges from around the world:
Renato Benedetti formed Benedetti Architects in 2016 in London. The firm works on a wide range of projects from architecture, urban design, bridges, and historic buildings.
Castleford Bridge, West Yorkshire
This Multi-award winning 130m long pedestrian bridge creates new public spaces marking the development of the first phase in Castleford Bay waterfront regeneration Master plan.
2. Foster and Partners
Foster + Partners founded by master architect Norman Foster in 1967 is a world-renowned practice for sustainable architecture, urbanism, and design.
Milau Viaduct, France.
The cable-stayed structure has become a new landmark for France. The bridge superseded the Eifel Tower to become the tallest structure in the country and has broken other records as well. It has the highest pylons in the world and the highest road bridge deck in Europe. Its sections each span 342 metres and the piers range in height from 75 metres to 245 metres, with the masts further rising to 87 metres above the road deck.
OMA is an international practice redefining the traditional boundaries of architecture and urbanism.
Halle Commune, Pleyel Bridge
The new urban extension is a radical departure in design thinking, conceived as a street rather than a bridge. The bridge acts as a concourse lending itself to multiple uses of a park, a station, a sports facility, or an event place. It provides relief from the external conditions for the user. It complements the local context rather than continuing it.
4. Santiago Calatrava
Santiago Calatrava Valls is a master architect, structural engineer, and artist known for his unique creation of structures that often resembled living organisms. He was particularly known for the design of various bridges and their uniquely devised structural assembly.
Peace Bridge, Calgary
The landmark structure situated in Canada over the Bow River connects the richly landscaped residential community of Sunnyside in the north with the modern urban downtown community of Eau Claire, located in the south. The 126-meter long (413 feet) and 8-meter wide (26 feet) with a total height of 5.85 meters (19 feet) bridge structure has the trademark sculptural quality of Calatrava’s designs and stands out amidst the surrounding landscape.
5. Wilkinson Eyre
The firm founded by Chris Wilkinson and Jim Eyre in 1999 is today multiple award-winning practices that work in a diverse range of projects.
Gateshead Millennium Bridge, Gateshead, UK
The bridge links Newcastle’s flourishing north bank with Gateshead Quays – the new arts and cultural sector to the south. The design features two curves (one forms the deck and the other the support) that pivot around a common springing point to allow the ships to pass underneath it, using an innovative rotational movement akin to that of a slowly opening eyelid.
6. Atelier Liu Yuyang Architects
Based in Shanghai, Atelier Liu Yuyang Architects (ALYA) has worked on several public works projects establishing a forward-thinking approach in their designs.
Yangjing Bridge, Pudong District, Shanghai
The Yangjing Pedestrian Bridge connects the Mingshen Wharf with the Yangjing Park crossing over the Yangjing Canal. It is conceived as a triangular-shaped truss structure having a width of 10.75 meters with a span of 55 meters and a total length of 140 meters. The height difference has been utilized to accommodate different functions such as cycling, jogging, and walking.
7. Zaha Hadid
Zaha Hadid known for her bold experiments in form creating many iconic structures extended this thought process in the design of infrastructure facilities as well.
Sheikh Zayed Bridge, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Designed in the form of a sinusoidal wave, the main bridge arch structure rises to a height of 60 m above water level with the road crowning to a height of 20 metres above the mean water level.
8. RSP Architects
Raglan Squire & Partners founded in 1956 in Singapore has steadily grown to become a globally recognized architecture practice working in various sectors including civic design such as bridges.
Henderson Waves Bridge, Singapore
Spanning Henderson Road to connect Mount Faber and Telok Blangah Hill Parks, Henderson Waves is a 274 m long pedestrian bridge having a folded three-dimensional surface created with a mathematical equation. This equation determines the form of the bridge and inflects it in all three dimensions so that the surface-bridge bends undulates and ascends by 21 metres in one movement.
9. WEST 8
West 8 founded in 1987 with offices in Rotterdam, New York, and Belgium is an award-winning international office for urban design and landscape architecture.
Amsterdam’s High Bridge
The three bridges of Borneo-Sporenburg have enhanced the quality of the harbour-residential area. The bridges on the Westside and the other on the East side span the 93-meter wide water of the Railroad basin. They connect the islands of Borneo and Sporenburg while the third bridge spans the 25-meter wide inland port.
10. BjarkeIngels Group
BIG is a multidisciplinary practice based in Copenhagen, New York, London, and Barcelona that aims to bring a radical approach to design based on contemporary realities on the ground.
The Twist, Jevnaker, Norway
Completed in 2019, the Twist is three structures in one. It is a Part museum, Part Bridge, and part sculpture. The nearly 11,000 square-foot art installation primarily acts as a bridge, connecting two forested riverbanks, while also completing the route through Kistefos, northern Europe’s largest sculpture park.
11. Knight Architects
Knight Architects based in Buckinghamshire; UK is specialized in designing infrastructure since 2006.
Knostrop Bridge, Leeds, UK
Built as part of the major Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme as a response to the destructive flooding of 2015, the 70m-long bridge at Knostrop Weir provides a pedestrian and cycle pathway along the River Aire and forms part of the wider Trans Pennine Trail.
12. NAN Architects
Nanjing Chengtian Bridge, Nanjing, China
Chengtian Bridge is an organic extension of the riverbank landscape reconnecting the urban space cut off by streets and rivers. This 1.3km Length Bridge creates a three-dimensional linear park from where people can have a good view of Qinhuai scenery, city ecological park, and modern skyline, etc.
13. S P F Architects
SPF based in Los Angeles; California works on a range of small to large scale public as well as private projects.
Rainbow Bridge, Singapore.
The 605-foot-long design is conceived as an abstraction of a breaking wave with a deck that is composed of multifarious elements that typify a boardwalk environment, such as the paving, seating, and landscaping.
14. DnA_Design and Architect
DnA_Design and Architect is an interdisciplinary practice based in Beijing.
Shimen Bridge, Songyang, China
The Shimen Corridor Bridge adopts a wooden assembly structure and the shape borrows from the local architectural form, forming continuity with the Shimen Post Station at the bridgehead and the residential houses of the village. The corridor bridge unfolds along the 263-meter bridge and the roof of the corridor opens at the arch of the bridge, echoing the structural rhythm of the bridge and forming a rhythm of light and shadow on the linear path.
15. LMN Architects
LMN Architects is a multidisciplinary practice based in Seattle, US.
Tukwila Urban Centre Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge, Washington
The new 220-foot long bridge situated in Tukwila, a Suburban city bordering Seattle at its northern edge, goes across the Green River and is right next to the Bicentennial Park. It creates a new pedestrian connection between the commercial district in the west and the east.