Melbourne’s Jim Stynes bridge receives international recognition

The Jim Stynes Bridge has quickly become an iconic landmark in Melbourne and its innovative design has most recently been recognised at the Institute of Structural Engineers Awards.During his 11 years and 264 games with Melbourne Football Club, Irish-born James “Jim” Stynes became an Australian Football League (AFL) legend and household name.

His dedication and excellence won him the title of the only non-Australia-born AFL player to win the prestigious Brownlow Medal, a feat he accomplished in 1991.

The late, great footballer has lovingly been called Melbourne’s adopted son, having explored a variety of different social roles after his football days including youth worker, writer and philanthropist.

Like many great cultural and sporting icons, Jim Stynes’ name is now synonymous with a civic structure, forever etching him into the city’s history.

The Jim Stynes Bridge is a visually exciting pedestrian and cycle path located along the north side of Melbourne’s Yarra River. The 125-metre-long, lightweight structure connects the Docklands precinct to the city’s central business district.

The idea for the iconic structure was born when the City of Melbourne and the Victorian Government commissioned a design competition to seek out the best idea to connect the two city sectors, a vital link blocked by a major highway and road bridge.

The winning design from Aurecon, Cox Architects and Oculus is a fluid combination of engineering, architecture and landscape practices, which sweeps underneath the Charles Grimes road bridge.

The solution was to design a horizontal, self-tensioned catenary that incorporates the truss in its design to resist the force induced by the cantilevered deck and curved truss. The result is sweeping, structure that arcs out 30 metres over the Yarra River, giving the impression that the bridge is floating or hovering over the water.

The design team incorporated high-performance and high-strength materials into the bridge concept to adhere to its running theme of “nothing more, nothing less.”

The main steel catenary and arch elements are made of high-strength steel while the concrete abutments are formed with 80 megapascal concrete to resist the large anchor forces. Likewise, high-strength concrete was used for the precast decking, which resulted in thickness as low as
75 millimetres.

The final result is a sustainable and practical combination of architectural and functional design.

Since it was officially opened in June 2014, the bridge has had a lasting impact on the city, opening up a new and eye-catching civil space and alternative route for Melbourne pedestrians and cyclists alike.

Its lasting legacy is evident in that its innovative design has been recognised on its home turf but also on the world stage as recently as November last year.

The Jim Stynes Bridge received Australian Institute of Architects’ 2015 Victoria Architecture award, was a finalist in the Landscape Project of the Year at the 2014 World Architecture Festival Awards and was most recently up for an award at the Institute of Structural Engineers 2015 awards in November.

The project was in the running for the award for Pedestrian Bridges, in which it ultimately received a commendation.

The bridge was one of few Australian projects recognised at the prestigious awards and stood alongside a multitude of innovative engineering marvels from all around the world.

The award judges commended the bridge’s uniqueness in their post-ceremony comments: “The judges admired the daring form of this horizontally arching torsion bridge. The engineering designers’ responses to the unique challenges of this site have resulted in an elegant harmonised solution; weaving the new and existing elements together within very tight spatial constraints.”

The new Melbourne icon has made its mark, providing a new route for pedestrians and cyclists, all the while immortalising one of the city’s favourite sons in its architecture.

Image courtesy of Tommy Miller (Cox Architecture).

This story has appeared in the Roads & Civil Works February/March 2016 edition – get your copy here today!

Interesting? Share this article