The SourceCivil Engineering MagazineSlideshow: Winning cycle and pedestrian bridge design features restrained curves

Slideshow: Winning cycle and pedestrian bridge design features restrained curves

By Catherine A. Cardno, Ph.D.

  • a thin steel crossing placed into a real photograph of Heidelberg
  • a users view of a bridge with separate paths for pedestrians and bicyclists
  • looking at the side of a thin steel bridge on a misty morning
  • an aerial shot of a large sweeping curve of a bridge over green parkland next to a river
  • aerial rendering of a thin bridge crossing a river

It has been announced that construction will begin in 2023 on a new pedestrian and cycle bridge over the Neckar River and a four-lane divided highway in Heidelberg, Germany. The design, which was picked as first prize in a design competition, was created by schlaich bergermann partner, LAVA, and Latz + Partner. The team created a minimalist, restrained design that provides a direct and smooth north-south connection between urban developments on both sides of the river.

The 700 m long bridge appears as a discrete, continuous band, but it contains seven spans, each 60 m long, as well as two long earthen ramps on either side of the river. Despite this length, just 105 m of the bridge will be above water. The steel superstructure is connected to slim, prefabricated supports of ultra-high-strength, fiber-reinforced concrete, according to material distributed by the design team.

A haunched, torsionally rigid box girder extends the entire length of the bridge as a continuous beam. The bridge’s railings, a series of slender steel bars, are clamped to this box girder. To eliminate dynamic susceptibility, vibration absorbers are integrated into the hollow box as well, according to the design team.

The team designed the bridge to be a comfortable, fast, and safe route that was fully accessible to all users. The new bridge will provide access between the city’s central train station, the Heidelberg Hauptbahnhof, and an express bike path on the northern side of the river. Links to high-speed bike connections to the city of Mannheim are also planned.

At the same time, open, green spaces at either end of the bridge — including the incorporation of an existing park — and viewing balconies on the bridge itself will offer resting places for users. Pedestrian and cycle paths do not intersect one another, so the bridge may be used simultaneously for a leisurely stroll and a fast, wheeled commute.

The competition was commissioned in 2018 by the city of Heidelberg and the International Building Exhibition Heidelberg. The winning design was chosen in July 2020 from a short list of five groups, which had been winnowed down from the original 14 interdisciplinary, largely international entrants. The public gave its input and comments and advised the jury.

The design team hopes that the design will become an icon for the city as it becomes a future-oriented, bicycle-friendly city.

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