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All bridges lead to Rome for Studio E and Ove Arup

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Studio E Architects has won third prize in a bridge competition in Rome and will get to build its £2 million scheme. Controversially, the first and second prize winners appear to have ignored key requirements in the brief.

Studio E worked with Ove Arup in the open international competition to design three pedestrian bridges for 'jubilee routes' in the historic Italian capital to alleviate problems caused by an expected 35 million tourists next year, to be built at key crossing points such as next to the basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano. The competition attracted 65 European entries.

The first and second prizes went to local architects, one a dean and another a professor of architecture at Roman universities - professor Francesco Cellini and Professor Massimo d'Alessandro respectively. But Cellini's triumphant scheme did not comply with the brief's requirement for disabled access, since it features a stepped ramp. And Massimo d'Alessandro's second-prize winner appears to defy the brief's requirement for a construction with 'light, shallow foundations so archaeological remains are not disturbed'. The scheme is a cable-stayed structure with large spiralling ramps at either end, suggesting that foundations of up to 10m may be required. By contrast, Studio E's Cezary Bednarski says that his bridge could only need 'shallow load-bearing concrete pads'.

Other features of Studio E's design corresponding to requirements in the brief include advertising on the lift shafts and the underside of the canopy, and photovoltaics to help to power the lifts and lights.

To ease erection and dismantling, the canopy could be made in aluminium for the one-off bridge and in carbon fibre if more than three were erected, and serve as an installation gantry to avoid disturbing traffic. And the bridges' roofs and columns could be reused after the millennium as a roof for the bus station in front of the Stazione Termini.

The brief also calls for a 'festive urban quality' - Studio E's scheme draws inspiration from the papal baldachins under which the popes parade during the jubilee celebrations.

At a ceremony announcing the winners and opening of an exhibition of entries, Rome councillor for territorial policy Domenico Cecchini and Roman Millennium Commission president Luigi Zanda said the city intends to build all three designs.

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