The Ponte della Musica is the first large-scale bridge to span the mighty Tiber since the Roman era. BuroHappold Engineering and Powell-Williams Architects won the international competition to realise this seminal structure with an elegant, shallow arch design for a dual purpose pedestrian and public transport bridge.
Opened in 2011, the crossing epitomises the harmonious union of highly efficient design and the very latest technology.
The new bridge had to perform as both an iconic crossing and a central component in the wider Rome city masterplan. This meant that while it was initially built to carry pedestrians, it had to have the inbuilt ability to adapt to carry tram routes in the future. The brief also specified that the bridge should create a flexible and open public realm that could be used for exhibitions, festivals and fairs. To complicate matters further, no intermediate piers were allowed in the river or on the banks to support the new structure.
We responded to this difficult brief with a deceptively simple structural concept. Our innovative design was for a clean, single-flight bridge with two shallow, inclined steel arches that support an expansive steel deck. At 20 metres wide, this deck creates a vast public area, and access stairs are tucked discretely into the springing points of the arches beneath the bridge. The materials and motifs used across the bridge create a ‘symmetry’ between the modern structure and its natural and architectural surroundings.
One of the most extraordinary features of this bridge is its future proofing. We have ensured that it will be able to accommodate two lanes of trams, and incorporated a derailment device to safeguard pedestrians. Our engineers undertook meticulous analysis of the design against the fatigue loading that would be caused by the weight and vibrations of the trams, and made adjustments accordingly.
Collaborating closely with the architect, we were able to develop and optimise a highly efficient design concept that unites Rome across the Tiber, and establishes a contemporary landmark in this historic city.
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