Pulling the pin on old style swing bridge design
Spanning across a busy harbour close to Copenhagen city centre, the new bridge at Vester Voldgard will combine sleek design with unique technical solutions. The design aims to enhance urban life and vibrancy on the waterfront, creating connections and ensuring a safe and accessible crossing for the use of pedestrians and cyclists, in order to strengthen cycling culture in the city.
BuroHappold Engineering won the international design commission for this vital new structure at Copenhagen Harbour, working in collaboration with Wilkinson Eyre Architects and mechanical engineers Eadon Consulting.
Our engineers needed to devise a plan that would see the client’s vision of a striking footbridge meet practical and inspiring engineering. In response, our team designed a striking and beautifully engineered, double-opening swing bridge that clears 35 metres to allow ships to pass underneath. It is curved in plan, and incorporates a cycle way and a footpath, which will provide a safe route for users to cross the harbour and improve access between the two sides of the water.
A key feature of the design is our team’s development of the bridge’s moment connection. The opening and closing mechanism consists of two horizontally rotating elements, mounted on slewing rings, which when closed fit together seamlessly. We then designed a series of mechanical components which form the structural moment connection that locks the two moveable parts together.
This is imperative to achieving the architectural intent, as it avoids the need to raise the height of the bridge over the supports, allowing the structural depth to be kept to a minimum so that users can enjoy views across the harbour.
By creating a reliable moment connection at the centre of the bridge, our team has achieved an important innovation in moving bridge structures. We used tried and tested equipment in a new way to deliver many benefits over a traditional locking pin arrangement. Achieved via a system of hydraulic cylinders, the connection not only supports the visual concept for the bridge but also offers key engineering benefits. As well as offering protection against excessive wear associated with locking pins, we carefully designed the structure so that it was as simple as possible to allow for maintenance in the future.
The project also includes refurbishment of the quaysides and landscaping by a local architect, with the bridge providing a focal point to the improvements and enhancing the waterfront for users. The BuroHappold team will manage the project team throughout, and full regulatory and technical approvals have now been received.
Once complete, the new bridge will reconnect the urban spaces on both side of the harbour, offering the community safe passage over the water. Combining bespoke, clever engineering with sophisticated design, this elegant structure will provide an iconic footpath into the city.
Services and approach
When we integrate our specialist teams around an approach, the benefits to the client multiply