Bridge design inspired by sea animal

By Andy Brown14 September 2022

Sam Crawford Architects designed the bridge

The design of a new pedestrian and cycle bridge in Sydney, Australia, was inspired by the shape of barra eels and their migration to the Pacific Ocean from the very pond it traverses.

The sinuous curved shape of the 40m bridge recalls the movement of the eels which swim slowly by means of lateral movements of the body, according to Sam Crawford Architects, the company that designed it. 

The new accessible gateway replaces a decaying and inaccessible pedestrian bridge. It connects the park to a new light rail station, broader pedestrian/cycle networks and surrounding suburbs.

Sam Crawford, said, “The shape, movement and colour of the long-finned eels is reflected in the form and materiality of the bridge design. The bridge celebrates ancient Indigenous culture and is an environmentally sensitive addition to the vast Centennial Parklands, linking them to surrounding areas in inner Sydney.”

A new pedestrian and cycle bridge in Sydney was inspired by the shape of ‘bara’ eels

The bridge widens at the centre to form a viewing platform. Materials were carefully chosen for their low maintenance, durability, and 100% recyclability.

Local spotted gum is used for handrails and kerbs, sandstone for paving and retaining blocks. Lightweight, non-slip fibreglass reinforced plastic mesh (FRP) was selected for the bridge deck.

To minimise disturbance to the pond ecosystem just three piles were driven into the pond-bed. A four prong cruciform steel structure from each pile supports the bridge and provides both lateral and longitudinal stability.

To ensure accuracy and minimise waste the entire structure and balustrade was assembled offsite and reassembled on site. 3D shop drawings ensured accuracy of each connection and component prior to fabrication.

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