Arup completes meandering bridge across Perth's Swan River

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Architects and engineers from Arup Associates teamed up to design this curvaceous pedestrian and cycling bridge, which has been built over the inlet of the Swan River in Perth, Australia (+ slideshow).

Queen Elizabeth Quay bridge in Perth, Australia by Arup Associates
Photograph by Jacaranda

Arup's Elizabeth Quay Bridge forms part of the wider revitalisation of Elizabeth Quay, a 2.7-hectare inlet in the city's central business district, featuring a promenade, housing, shops, offices and restaurants.

Queen Elizabeth Quay bridge in Perth, Australia by Arup Associates
Photograph by Jacaranda

The 110-metre-long cable-stayed bridge has a wavy eucalyptus-wood deck shaped like an elongated S, framed by a pair of leaning steel arches.

Queen Elizabeth Quay bridge in Perth, Australia by Arup Associates
Photograph by Jacaranda

"The concept design was driven by a desire to have a simple but iconic form that respected the Quay's existing masterplan, while ensuring that the structure took full advantage of its spectacularly unique location," said Perth office leader Alistair Avern-Taplin.

Queen Elizabeth Quay bridge in Perth, Australia by Arup Associates
Photograph by Jacaranda

"It is an iconic project that will forever change the way people enjoy one of the country's most vibrant and diverse cities."



The deck's gently curving outline allows the form to ramp upwards to leave space for boats to pass along the river below, while its pair of 22-metre-tall arches provide stability.

Queen Elizabeth Quay bridge in Perth, Australia by Arup Associates
Photograph by Nick Birmingham

The arches are strung with steel cables. They meet in the centre of the inlet to create an M-shaped profile – not dissimilar to the golden arches logo of fast-food giant McDonald's.

"The local and luxurious jarrah eucalyptus timber decking resonates strongly with the West Australian maritime context," said project architect Nick Birmingham.

Queen Elizabeth Quay bridge in Perth, Australia by Arup Associates
Photograph by Nick Birmingham

"In contrast, the complex parametric steel forms, refined stainless steel details and dynamic lighting solutions propel the project into the contemporary context."

Arup's team used parametric design – a form of algorithm-driven digital modelling – to determine the form of the deck and arches. These feature built-in lighting, illuminating the bridge at night.

Queen Elizabeth Quay bridge in Perth, Australia by Arup Associates
Photograph by Nick Birmingham

"The architect's unique sculptured form for the cable-stayed bridge presented an interesting design challenge which Arup's engineers enjoyed creating design solutions for," added Avern-Taplin.

Queen Elizabeth Quay bridge in Perth, Australia by Arup Associates
Photograph by Nick Birmingham

The first major retrospective of Ove Arup, the 20th-century engineer behind the Arup group, will be held as part of the V&A museum's Engineering Season later this year.

The exhibition will look back at some of Arup's early works including Jørn Utzon's Sydney Opera House, Berthold Lubetkin's Penguin Pool at London Zoo and the Centre Pompidou in Paris by Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano.

Queen Elizabeth Quay bridge in Perth, Australia by Arup Associates
Photograph by Nick Birmingham

Elizabeth Quay Bridge opened to the public at the end of January. Other recently completed bridges include a sculptural crossing in Copenhagen based on ships rigging by artist Olafur Eliasson and a ring-shaped structure in Uruguay by architect Rafael Viñoly.

Photography is by Jacaranda and Nick Birmingham of Arup Associates. Drawings are by Arup Associates.


Project credits:

Architecture: Arup Associates
Engineers: Arup
Clients: Leighton Broad, Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority

Queen Elizabeth Quay bridge in Perth, Australia by Arup Associates
Plan – click for larger image
Queen Elizabeth Quay bridge in Perth, Australia by Arup Associates
Sectional diagram – click for larger image
  • notoriousFF

    Nice but…

  • Kayleigh

    Love it. The view from above is ace.

  • Mark

    Those arches are everything to this, and oh goddamn it’s beautiful with them.

  • spadestick

    What’s with the cheap fencing material?