Global engineering, design and consulting firm Arup is to lead the design of a new £31million cycling and pedestrian ‘smart bridge’ across the River Wear in Sunderland. It will work alongside construction company VolkerStevin, specialist bridge architects Knight Architects and local landscape architects Colour to create the new crossing, which is expected to open in 2024.
The new bridge will connect Sheepfolds and the city centre, completing the Keel Line connection between Keel Square and the Stadium of Light, university facilities and residential communities north of the river. It forms part of Sunderland City Council’s ambition to encourage walking and cycling in and across the city through the creation of fully accessible paths and cycle routes. The council is particularly keen to increase walking and cycling in and around Riverside Park, a new sustainable regeneration project in the city’s industrial area.
The so-called ‘smart bridge’ will feature interactive experiences, including smartphone-accessible augmented-reality displays, that will be available to walkers and cyclists as they cross. The bridge’s design will also make use of creative lighting to illuminate the green spaces below.
The designers will use 3D modelling to find ways to minimise the bridge’s carbon footprint and impact on local biodiversity, both during and after the construction process.The plan is to make the structure’s aesthetic as simple and minimal and possible in order to enhance the riverside development and complement the existing river crossings.
‘This is an important project for the local area and an exemplar of sustainable, people-focused design,’ said Rachel Hurdman, Arup’s project manager. ‘Our design and engineering experts will be leading the design process with cutting-edge design and engineering to provide a new strategic link for the people of Sunderland.’