Wilkinson Eyre’s steel bridge reconnects Copenhagen harbour

A 160 m-long steel cycling and pedestrian bridge 160 metres long, has been built across the Inner Harbour in Copenhagen, with a design that conceals a “surprise” opening.

Designed by Wilkinson Eyre in conjunction with Urban Agency, the bridge forms a sweeping curve in plan that “reconnects the two misaligned axes of the Vester Voldgade and Langbrogade,” said the architects. Since 2008, cycle traffic on the adjacent Langebro road bridge has increased dramatically, and a central part of the brief was to significantly improve their safety and experience. The new Lille Langebro bridge provides an alternative route for over 10,500 cyclists and pedestrians combined daily.

The shape of the two triangular steel edge beams gradually changes as the bridge crosses the water. At the quaysides, they are angled downwards below the deck, and as the bridge extends across, they gradually twist upward, maximising the clearance below deck, and “providing a perceived sense of security at mid span.”

The “continuously flowing lines” of the bridge “offer no clues as to how the bridge opens,” said Wilkinson Eyre. The two opening spans create a “surprise” as they pivot on their supports and swing apart at mid-span. This motion provides a spectacle for viewers to enjoy and results in a 35 metre-wide shipping channel.

Sustainability approaches for the bridge’s 100-year design life, included creating resilient infrastructure and “ensuring the highest levels of material quality for the client and the city’s residents.” LED lighting has been installed across the length of the bridge, ensuring low levels of operational carbon and providing access at night.

The design has successfully responded to the client’s vision to create a “subtle and elegant” transport link, said the architects, and has reportedly been well received by both locals and visitors to Copenhagen.