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London’s IJP Architects wins Dubai footbridge contest

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IJP Architects and engineer AKT II have won a competition to design a 230m-long footbridge in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The two London-based companies will design and deliver the two-storey bridge for the 550ha Dubai Creek Harbour development, which has been masterplanned by CallisonRTKL and will feature a skyscraper centrepiece by Santiago Calatrava.

The winning design – described as a ‘cloud of structure’ by the architect – features a series of intricate geometric patterns intended to represent a ‘viable balance be­tween technology, art history, and Islamic culture’.

The bridge will span a man-made canal and form a ‘monumental axis’ of the development aligned to Calatrava’s centrepiece. Detailed design work expected to start this summer ahead of delivery next year. Foundations for the scheme are already in place.

IJP founder and managing partner George L Legendre said: ‘In our mind, the Dubai Creek Harbour Central Footbridge is about modernity and tradition. The dispersal of forces through a three-dimensional web of steel produces a lightweight, cloud-like structure with legible geometric patterns. In this sense, DCH Central Footbridge expresses a state of harmony between the new and the traditional, between technology, art history, and Islamic culture.’

AKT II design director Paul Hutter said: ‘In order to create an iconic landmark to complement Dubai Creek Tower, we wanted to design a bridge that was both delicate as well as almost impossibly slender. To do this we created an arched truss. This ensured that every element of structure was part of the global stability system and designed to their maximum capacity.

‘When developing the scheme, we were acutely aware that all the structural elements will be on display and therefore need to be equal to “human scale” despite the bridge’s large span. To do this we carried out detailed research into steel fabrication capabilities worldwide to ensure the bridge is not only iconic but pushes boundaries.’

The appointment comes shortly after another London practice, OF Studio, was chosen to design a waterside feature for the same development.

Dubai is the largest and most populous city in the UAE and will be the first entity within the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia region to host a world expo – set to open in October.

Dubai Creek Harbour is a major new mixed-use scheme 33km north-east of the Expo 2020 Dubai site. The development is backed by UAE developer Emaar and will transform a previously undeveloped inland waterfront site a short distance from the Burj Khalifa skyscraper and Dubai International Airport. It is expected to have 48,500 residential units and a population of 175,000 when completed.

It will feature a mix of residential, retail, hotel, office, cultural and community uses centred around Calatrava’s tower and parkland.

A competition to design a 750m² mosque for the site has shortlisted Weston Williamson and Partners, local firm JT+Partners, Singapore’s Formwerkz Architects, Mohammed Makki, and Snøhetta of Oslo. But while the shortlist was announced in 2018, a winner has yet to be announced.

UK artist and stage designer Es Devlin is creating the UK’s showcase pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, which opens in October. Foster + Partners and Grimshaw are also delivering centrepiece pavilions, focusing on mobility and sustainability respectively.

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