New Danube Bridge

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is a city of bridges, both physical and metaphorical. Many times has the resilience of its inhabitants overcome difficult times to forge a brighter future for generations to come. The New Danube Bridge embodies this spirit of togetherness, uniting Buda and Csepel for the first time, and creating a bold new symbol for 21st century Budapest.

Because of the importance of this project, the Hungarian Government held an international competition to select a design for the new bridge. Buro Happold partnered with UNStudio to create the winning entry, which will realise a structure that is as beautiful as it is efficient, feasible to build, and easy to maintain.

Challenge

At this early stage of the project, the main challenge for our team is to translate our competition-winning vision into the in-depth plans required to make it a reality. Vital to this is ensuring the bridge has the structural strength to carry two lanes of traffic in each direction, as well as two tram lines, and lanes for pedestrians and cyclists. Establishing the visual identity of the bridge in the hours of darkness also required careful consideration by our lighting design experts.

In addition, we appreciate that we are engineering an icon, and as such want to realise a memorable landmark for Budapest that is both contemporary in design and innovative in its structural form.

A busy scene of cyclists, pedestrians and cars traversing New Danube Bridge
Sleek in appearance yet with immense structural strength, the bridge will support 4 vehicle lanes, 2 tram lines, 2 footpaths and 2 cycle lanes. Image: UNstudio / ZOA https://zoa3d.com

Solution

Our engineers modelled and analysed a variety of different structural options to see which would be most aesthetically pleasing and feasible to build within the existing landscape. Our final solution is a cable stayed bridge, sweeping a full 500m in length, with white steel pylons and a graceful 220m long main span. This structural typology is new among the city’s bridges, and as such will render a unique and elegant urban landmark for southern Budapest.

The functional lighting on the bridge has been designed to integrate seamlessly with the architecture. Considering best-practice international and local standards, regulations, and the Budapest Lighting Masterplan while utilising innovative lighting solutions.

Eye level view of crossing the New Danube Bridge
Our competition winning design will realise an elegant cable stayed bridge, with white steel pylons and a graceful 220m long main span. Image: UNstudio / ZOA https://zoa3d.com

Value

With a daily capacity of over 600,000 vehicles and several hundred thousand pedestrians, the existing bridges of Budapest are overcrowded. The construction of a new bridge will reduce this burden by an estimated 42,000 vehicles per day, easing the gridlock and improving life for people across the city.

In establishing a direct link between Buda and Csepel, the New Danube Bridge will also complete a long-planned and much needed stretch of the Budapest public road network. This will improve access to the industrial ‘rust’ zone south of the city centre, acting as a catalyst for its future development and creating a new identity for the area.

The New Danube Bridge stretches over frozen water
The New Danube Bridge will stand as a bold, contemporary landmark for southern Budapest. Image: UNstudio / ZOA https://zoa3d.com

To ensure the bridge remains a highly recognisable landmark, even after dark, architectural lighting will elegantly emphasise the cables, the front and inner faces of the bridge pylons. This lighting design creates an experience of two portals connecting the city across the Danube River.

Eye level view crossing the New Danube Bridge
The New Danube Bridge unites Buda and Csepel, and completes a long-planned and much needed stretch of public road network. Image: UNstudio / ZOA https://zoa3d.com

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