Queensland's tensegrity bridge

Monday 31 Aug 2009

Tensional Integrity utilised in striking bridge design

The Kurilpa Bridge utilises Richard Buckminster Fuller’s principle of ‘tensegrity’ to mutually resolve particular technical and urban design challenges confronting its design.

From a technical perspective, these included spanning 130 metres of the Brisbane River and the city’s main elevated motorway, allowing fro high vessel navigation underneath and adding no flood impact on the river.

Actually, these are of course all urban design challenges as well, their solutions having significant contextual design implications.

The idea of the tensegrity bridge emanated from the work the American sculptor Kenneth Snelson undertook using Buckminster Fuller’s analyses, as the brief was to build a structure that embodied the arts to enrich Queensland’s Gallery of Modern Art which forms one of the approaches.

The tensegrity system generated an extremely thin deck thickness, so that it entailed the minimum length of ramp at the Gallery end, an important need to avoid impact into Brisbane’s Kurilpa Park which has special meaning to local Aboriginal people.

At the Central Business District end, the structure extends over the freeway and into one of the CBD’s northern cross-streets. Cox Rayner Architects' concept is for the pedestrian corridor to extend through this street (Tank Street), the Brisbane Courts Precinct and up into Roma Street Parkland via another of our projects – the Brisbane Magistrates Court – which was completed in 2004. This concept has now been adopted by the Queensland Government, such that the Kurilpa Bridge redefines the way the city of Brisbane is perceived and experienced.This project was designed by Cox Rayner Architects in association with ARUP.

Key Facts:

Urban design

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