10 Green Structural Engineering Marvels

Jarrold Bridge (Norwich, U.K.)
Shot of Jarrold Bridge on Dec. 19, 2011, just three days after the seemingly floating bridge opened to the public Photo courtesy Thomas Barrett used under Creative Commons CC By 2.0 license

Designed to link a newly constructed development with the historic Norwich city center, Jarrold Bridge defies the limitations of both old and new while appearing to defy gravity.

As a crossing for bikers and pedestrians alike, the structure improves the environment in more ways than one: first, by employing a cantilevered design that minimizes environmental disruption with grace and flair, and second by reducing the need for vehicle bridges. Vehicle bridges tend to occupy substantial footprints, both metaphorically, in terms of building materials used and runoff pollution created, and literally, with respect to the substantial space taken up by their land-based entrances and exits and their water-anchored supports [sources: ISE; Ramboll].

A cantilever is a simply a beam anchored at only one end. With no further supports needed, Jarrold Bridge practically levitates above the water below, leaving River Wensum traffic and local views unhindered. Weathering steel, sustainably sourced hardwood and stainless steel with no applied finishes together create a long-lasting bridge that sheds no toxic runoff and requires little maintenance. Bridge lights dimly illuminate the walkway, not the water, protecting the local fish and wildlife from intrusive glare [sources: R G Carter; ISE; Ramboll].

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