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Knight and Knippers win Vienna bridge contest

The Anglo-German team of High Wycombe-based Knight Architects and engineering practice Knippers Helbig has won the international competition to design a new footbridge in the centre of Vienna

The 380m-long timber bridge, over a busy main road and close to the entrance of Otto Wagner’s Margaretengürtel underground station (1899), links two ‘disconnected’ parks.

According to Knight, who formerly worked for Wilkinson Eyre and was named among the Architects’ Journal/Corus 40 Under 40 starlets in 2005, the gently curving bridge creates a new ‘topographic element’ which contrasts with its historic surroundings. He said : ‘The massive minimalism and formal simplicity of the new structure is considered in counterpoint to the rich architectural language of the neighbourhood.’

Describing the proposed building techniques, he added: ‘The [bridge’s] body is an efficient hybrid structure with a glulam core of spruce layers or ‘lamella’ of varying qualities, depending on the stress level in the particular location, and an outer layer covered by larch lamella which provides durability and good protection against moisture. The relatively large uni-axial bending radii of the glulam layers are easily achieved using standard production techniques.’

The Viennese victory is the second major contest win for the Knippers Helbig / Knight Architects pairing and follows last year’s success in the competition to design two 100m-long bridges at Opladen, near Leverkusen in Germany. Work on those structures will begin later this year.

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