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Bridge design competition open to engineers

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) last week launched a bridge design competition open to engineer-led teams, following criticism of its previous competitions.

The competition, to design a footbridge over the River Soar in Leicester, is a milestone in the procurement of bridge designs by those local authorities that choose to adopt the RIBA process.

RIBA bridge competitions have been criticised in the past for excluding engineer-led teams, but this competition seems to herald a new change in direction.

The last bridge competition launched by RIBA's Competition Office was for a crossing over the River Douglas in Preston. It initially excluded engineers, but then RIBA changed the brief to be more inclusive when queried by NCE.

RIBA bridge competitions have been criticised in the past for producing unbuildable designs that have insufficient regard to cost constraints.

Critics have said that more input from engineers during the briefing and judging process is needed. The River Soar competition will have an engineering adviser on the panel but it is still to be confirmed who it will be.

However creativity, design and flair have taken precedence over buildability in the brief. The competition is being run by RIBA on behalf of Leicester Regeneration Company and Leicester City Council. The
budget for the bridge is estimated to be £1.5M and initial application
will be by expression of interest.

A shortlist of up to six teams will then be selected to take part in the
design phase of the competition.

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