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Tonkin Liu wins RIBA Salford Bridge contest

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Tonkin Liu, working with engineers Arup, has won the RIBA-backed competition to design a new foot bridge in Salford

The team’s ‘poetic, innovative and elegant’ proposal for the pedestrian link across the River Irwell was chosen ahead of concept schemes by Moxon Architects with Mott MacDonald, Wolfgang Buttress Studio with Toby Savage Design and LDA Design.

The bridge will play ‘a crucial role’ connecting The Meadows - a seven hectare green space within the northern section of the Irwell River Park (IRP) project - with the £650 million redevelopment of Salford Central including Chapel Street.

RIBA Adviser Renato Benedetti of brdige specialists McDowell + Benedetti said: ‘Tonkin Liu with Arup are worthy winners - their unique bridge is poetic, innovative and elegantly engineered with sinuous curves seamlessly linking the Meadows with the new public space to be created. Its sculptural qualities ensure it will be a joy to look at and to use, becoming an inspirational new urban marker for Salford.’

Explaining the victorious scheme’s design, Mike Tonkin of Tonkin Liu said: ‘Our biomimetic design has grown out of many years of research with Ed Clark’s engineering team at Arup and will bring together many facets of our fascination with nature.’

The contest, which was run for Salford City Council, attracted 172 submissions from 31 countries.


Previous story (AJ 11.10.13)

RIBA Salford Bridge contest shortlist revealed

UK practices Tonkin Liu, Moxon Architects and LDA Design have seen off bids from around the globe to make the shortlist in the contest to design a foot bridge in Salford

The RIBA-run competition, which earlier in the year attracted severe criticism from veteran bridge-designer Cezary Bednarski (see below), pulled in 172 submissions from 31 countries, but was finally whittled down to just four teams.

The shortlist

  • Atelier Zündel Cristea, Paris
  • Mott MacDonald with Moxon Architects, Altrincham and London
  • Toby Savage Design Limited/Wolfgang Buttress Studio with LDA Design, Stockport
  • Tonkin Liu Limited with Arup, London

The brief was to design a new foot crossing spanning the River Irwell at a point known as The Meadows; seven hectares of ‘untapped green space’ that the council wants to ‘open up to residents and students’ as part of the wider Irwell River Park (IRP) project.

According to the council the IRP will become an ‘international waterfront destination’ and a ‘catalyst for major economic expansion in the area as it seeks to link up £3 billion of investment through greater use of the River Irwell and the Manchester Ship Canal’.

The shortlisted teams will now meet the full judging panel at a final interview in November after which an overall winner will be selected.

Previous story (03.07.13)

RIBA Salford Bridge contest branded ‘waste of effort and money’

Manser Medal-winner Cezary Bednarski has panned RIBA’s Salford Bridge competition as an ‘example of how not’ to run a contest

The high-profile designer – who has entered 20 bridge contests, won 10 but only seen three winners built – warned the project was ‘unlikely to attract serious bridge designers’ because it failed to live up to new international standards.

His criticism was based on the new Guidelines for Design Competitions for Bridges, agreed last month by the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineers.

Commenting with reference to the guidelines, he said: ‘The just-announced Salford bridge competition is yet another example of how not to do it.

‘There is no respected bridge engineer on the jury [and there] There is no commitment to build anything, nor to employ the winner. The “prize” is derisory and paid only to the shortlisted teams and nothing to the winner.’

Bednarski also hit out at the £50 entry fee and said the brief requirement for two A1 boards was ‘overkill’, noting Transport for London only required a single A2 sheet for its Thames Crossing ideas.

He said: ‘It all looks like a waste of effort and money and is unlikely to attract serious bridge designers – a loss to the client.’

The two-stage open design competition was announced just days after the RIBA launched a review of its in-house competition’s service in a bid to stamp out exploitation of architects across the industry.

The client, Salford City Council, has committed to pay honoraria worth £4,000 + VAT to the shortlisted teams.

But, according to terms set out in the brief, the winner’s prize would be an ‘advance on their professional fee post competition’ and the competition-backer ‘reserves the right not to proceed beyond the competition stage in the event that the requirements and aspirations set for this competition are not met.’

Submissions must include a maximum of two A1 sheets and a 500-word written design statement. The judging panel includes Salford City Mayor Ian Stewart, McDowell+Benedetti partner Renato Benedetti and representatives from Salford City Council, the University of Salford, English Cities Fund, Countryside Properties and Urban Vision.

The closing date for submissions to the Salford Bridge contest is 5 September.


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