When designing infrastructure also means designing new social space

Rosie Hackett 630w

Congratulations to Dublin City Council’s Engineering Department on the Rosie Hackett Bridge being voted Best Engineering Project of the Year in the Engineers Ireland Awards by the Irish public. The Rosie Hackett Bridge by Dublin City Council, Roughan & O’Donovan, Sean Harrington Architects and Graham Projects Ltd is the newest bridge overlooking Dublin’s riverscape.

The technical engineering achievement of the bridge’s design and construction is impressive: “The graceful structure, with a total depth of only 45.7 centimetres at mid span, just 15 centimetres longer than a standard ruler” will take a significant loading of trams and buses. “The bridge has set a new standard in the capabilities of structural concrete, far exceeding anything that has been achieved in this country before”.

While the bridge was obviously initiated as part of a larger transport project (the new Luas cross-city tram route), an equally interesting achievement of the bridge is its contribution as a new place in Dublin’s public realm.

Flood protection, to ensure that the bridge remains operational in the event of water rising above deck level, was a necessary part of the bridge design. This is provided by two concrete walls, which also form part of the bridge’s spanning structure, placed on the inside of the pedestrian areas, with ‘dutch dams’ placed at junctions with the quay wall. The benefit of placing these walls, which have built-in seating, to the inside rather than the outside of the walkway is that it orientates the pedestrian decks to the river, as seating faces up and downstream. The photo above shows how the bridge was being enjoyed during the summer as a place to spend time as well as to move.

Dublin has had a number of new bridges delivered over the past decade and designing them so that they make a social and cultural contribution to the city, whether as landmarks making places special or as places to spend time, has ensured they deliver far more for their buck than might otherwise have been the case.

City Architects played a role in Rosie Hackett Bridge, writing an architectural design brief at the early stage and then participating in reviews during the design process.

You can see more about this and all of the city’s other bridges at www.bridgesofdublin.ie.