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Infinity Bridge, Stockton-on-Tees, UK

Issue 54 Apr/May 2010 : Architectural : Bridge


VIDEO CONTENT Designed by Expedition Engineering, the slender bowstring bridge cuts a distinctive silhouette across the River Tees. A 230m-long concrete walkway is supported by a pair of asymmetric steel arches that appear to skip across the river like a pebble skimming water.

Speirs and Major Associates (SaMA) designed the lighting in such a way that the iconic twin arches reflect in the water at night to form the mathematical symbol for infinity (∞) – hence the name.

The designers bounced blue light off the water to light the underbelly of the deck and form a blue zone above the water (150W Meyer Superlights with blue filters). Cold white light was used to reveal the structural form and create the sense of a floating wave hovering just above the deck (150W Meyer Superlights with an elliptical beam spreader lens).

In typical SaMA fashion, all lighting equipment was carefully concealed. Lights are mounted on outriggers away from the bridge so that pedestrians aren’t aware of the fixtures or disturbed by their glare.
Along the surface of the deck, light is programmed to respond to the presence of people, guiding them down the walkway or signalling the approach of oncomers. There are blue and white ACDC custom made LED units concealed under the handrail. Each unit uses a maximum of 3W for both colours, but seeing as the blue and the white are never on at the same time, the true figure is closer to 1.5W for each unit. There are approximately 200 units lighting the deck of the footbridge. When people cross the bridge, the sensors trigger a change from blue to white, leaving a ‘comet’s trail’ of light in the pedestrians’ wake. The sensors and control electronics are by Lee Engineering.

No other bridge is known to have quite the same design. Competing in the awards for Structural Engineering Excellence against over 100 global entries, the Infinity Bridge went on to win the overall Supreme Award.



Pic: James Newton

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