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Flight of fancy

Cover story - Clifton Crossing Competition

A leaf-like design soars above its rivals to clinch first prize in the Clifton Crossing Competition.

INSPIRATION FROM nature helped Egyptian architect Youssef Ghali scoop the £5,000 first prize in the Clifton Crossing Competition with his leaf-like asymmetrical structure.

Ghali's design won over the judging panel for its 'lightness, elegance and transparency'.

'The design inspires a feeling of soaring - almost bird-like - above the Avon, ' said the judges, led by design gurus Michel Virlogeux, Mark Whitby and Jim Eyre. 'It certainly takes advantage of the rocky site and seems to enhance the depth of the gorge.'

The panel of judges was locked in debate for over three hours as they pored over the seven short-listed bridges and interrogated the designers. Each finalist was given an opportunity to explain their ideas and win over the judges.

Ghali's bridge emerged victorious after a heated debate, beating the stress-ribbon design by Christian Frandsen, Tun Shin Chang and Thomas Mew from consultant URS into second place.

However, the judges stressed that both designs would need to be substantially reworked structurally as there were serious flaws in their design.

In particular, judges were concerned over the ability of Ghali's twin asymmetric arches to cope with torsion and said it was likely that the arches would have to be modified with the addition of extra structural members to make it work.

There was also some concern over precisely how this bridge could be practically constructed.

'Brunel would not have given himself quite so many problems, ' they said.

Ghali's bridge was also voted as public favourite, following an online poll of the seven shortlisted entries, and votes cast alongside a display at the At-Bristol Science Centre.

The competition was sponsored by the Environment Agency. Regional representative Richard Horrocks was a member of the judging panel and presented the £5,000 first prize and specially commissioned plaque at the Brunel Bicentenery Gala Dinner in Bristol.

Students reveal innovation Budding engineers and architects from Nottingham University came out on top in the student category of the Clifton Crossing Competition and netted themselves a £1,000 prize.

The student winners: Ben Hopkins, Rachael Lee, Tom White and Eric Cheung, worked up their design - an exciting cable stay and arch structure - as part of a course project.

Professor Colin Taylor, from the Department of Civil Engineering at Bristol University, devised the competition to re-run the original 1831 contest and led the judging of the student entries.

'The aim was to find modern solutions to the problems that faced Brunel and his contemporaries in the 19th century, ' he said. 'The entries show many examples of similar talent, especially among the young people's designs. The university's challenge now is to help schools nurture these talents and develop the next generation of Brunels.'

Environment Agency : sponsor's message

The Environment Agency celebrates its 10th anniversary just as Brunel hits his 200th!

To recognise these milestones, we are pleased to have sponsored the Clifton Crossing Competition and delighted to have presented the £5,000 first prize at the awards dinner on 6 July. With such an exceptionally high standard of entries, this was a great event to be associated with.

Engineers make up a vital part of our work force, especially in helping to protect the nation from flooding.

We're always keen to hear from talented civil engineers - and you can visit www.fluidfacts. com to find out more.

School success rewarded

So many inspired designs were received from schoolchildren of all ages that the competition organisers have decided to give prizes to the top 50 participating schools - it was too difficult to select an overall winner from over 600 entries.

RUNNERS UP:

1. Second place Christian Frandsen, Tom Shin Chang, Thomas Mew 2. Third place Yosiaki Kubota, Nobuo Inoue 3. Yan Gao 4. Gwendoline Blain 5. David Rhodes 6. Tom Wright, Ferhat Ozdemir www. nceplus. co. uk for details

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