27 May 2011

Helsinki Kruunusillat bridge design competition announced

An international competition has been announced to design new pedestrian, cyclist and tram bridges in Helsinki, connecting a new residential area to the city centre. The bridges, termed Kruunusillat ("crown bridges") fall within a designated heritage area, and are being partly promoted under the auspices of Helsinki's role as World Design Capital for 2012.

The budget for construction is €86m, and these are not small structures, but crossing major waterways. The longest bridge will be over 1km long, rising to 20m above water level.

Prequalification submissions are requested from teams of bridge engineers, architects and supporting specialists by 3rd August. Full details of the programme, jury and how to apply are available on the competition website. More information can be found at the Official Journal of the European Union.

Between 5 and 10 design teams will be shortlisted, and each one is to be paid €50,000 for their efforts (plus expenses towards producing a scale model, and some limited travel expenses). If the contest moves into a second phase, a further €25,000 becomes payable, and there is the prospect of a design contract for the winner. This is pretty generous, certainly when compared to UK standards, although the competition submission requirements are very detailed, including production of numerous drawings, photo visualisations, reports and animations as well as the scale model.

I expect they will attract some very high-powered entrants, although the nature of the site is that designs will tend towards the elegant rather than the spectacular.

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