World’s largest tensegrity bridge completed in Brisbane

Oct 19, 2009
  • Article by Online Editor
  • Photography by David Sandison
  • Architect Cox Rayner Architects

The recently completed Kurilpa Bridge in Brisbane, designed by Cox Rayner Architects + Arup, is being hailed as the world’s largest tensegrity bridge.

The bridge uses Richard Buckminster Fuller’s principle of tensegrity, using tension and compression components to create a lightweight structure that is also very strong. The bridge is supported by a network of cables held together by steel struts.

Lead architect Michael Rayner explained: “The inherent strength in the tensegrity system meant that the deck could be very thin. As river navigation requirements entailed the bridge needed to be 11 metres above the bank on the South Bank side, the 900mm deck enabled us to minimize the ramp down which otherwise would have eaten into Kurilpa Park, a significant historic meeting place for Aboriginal people.”

Rayner also said that the team had, “thought more abstractly of dance or contemporary symphony – seeing the bridge as a convergence of art and structure leading people towards the city’s art galleries”.

The bridge provides a link for pedestrians and cyclists between the city’s CBD and its cultural South Bank precinct. At night the bridge is lit with an LED lighting scheme that can be programmed to produce an array of different lighting effects. In most lighting configurations, 100 per cent of the power will be provided by solar energy, with any surplus power returned to the main grid, amounting to savings of around 37.8 tonnes of carbon emissions each year.

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