Baakenhafen Brucke West

Hamburg, Germany

Baakenhafen Bridge forms the main link to a major new harbour development in Hamburg, spanning the Elbe River to connect the northern half of HafenCity’s Baakenhafen quarter with its southern part.

After winning an international design competition with architects Wilkinson Eyre, Buro Happold undertook full engineering design for this deceptively simple looking structure.


Flexibility and sustainability were vital to the success of this project. The bridge had to sustain multimodal forms of transport, while also blend seamlessly into the surrounding cityscape.

Realising a competition winning bridge design that spans the Baakenhafen to connect a major new harbour development in Hamburg. Image: Wilfried Dechau


Working closely with the architect, the Buro Happold Team designed an elegant bridge that has three spans and a total length of 170 metres. We used advanced analytical methods to develop and test the design, which conceals transverse ribs and geometrically complex stiffened girders, for structural strength and flexibility, within the steel deck to create a visually fluid superstructure.


From the outset, our engineers placed flexibility and sustainability at the heart of this project, ensuring the final bridge could sustain multimodal forms of transport while also blending seamlessly into the surrounding cityscape. Since the Baakenhafen Bridge opened in August 2013 it has gained significant recognition, culminating in a RIBA International Prize in 2014. The project was also a finalist in the prestigious German Bridge Construction Prize awards.

To allow taller ships to pass into the Baakenhafen and ensure its continued use as a working waterway, our engineers came up with an ingenious design that incorporates a 30 metre long moveable element in the middle of the bridge. The 560 tonne deck can be lifted by a simple barge, which moves up and down with the tide, raising and lowering the section as it goes.

Davood Liaghat, Head of Bridge Engineering and Civil Structures

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