London Millennium Footbridge (2000) London, England
The London Millennium Footbridge, is a steel suspension bridge for pedestrians across the River Thames linking St Paul’s Cathedral in the City and the Tate Modern gallery at Bankside. The bridge originated in a design competition held in 1996 which was won by a collaboration between Arup Engineering, Sir Norman Foster and Sir Anthony Caro, an English abstract sculptor.
Due to its location it was necessary that the proposed bridge was low profile and not visually intrusive on the surrounding landmarks. Foster’s innovative solution was a shallow suspension bridge consisting of two Y-shaped piers holding four supporting cables on either side below deck level. The 4m (13 ft) wide lightweight deck passes between the cables and is supported by structural arms connecting to the cables every 8m (26 ft). The bridge has a total length of 325m (1,066 ft) of which the main span between the piers comprises 144m (472 ft).
A further feature of the bridge design is that the its alignment presents a clear view of St Paul’s Cathedral from across the river, framed by the bridge supports. Lighting was also incorporated into the bridge structure which is automatically activated by photo-cells at dusk.
Construction began in late 1998 with the main works starting in April 1999. It cost £18.2 million to build and when it opened in June 2000 it was the first new bridge over the Thames in over 100 years. When it opened so great was the number of people who crossed it that the bridge began to sway. After being open for just two days it was closed in order to investigate and resolve the problem. It did not reopen until February 2002 after the installation of dampers underneath the deck and between it and the piers. The modifications were a success but the bridge remains unofficially known to Londoners as “The Wobbly Bridge”.