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Style beats cost in Helsinki bridge design award

A UNIQUE single inclined mast cable stay bridge design has won an international competition for a new crossing in the Finnish capital Helsinki.

Designed by Stonecutters Bridge competition winner Flint & Neill (NCE 14 December 2000), the innovative 140m span twin steel box girder structure has a forward raked steel mast with splayed and twisted backstays.

It will carry four lanes of road traffic and two tram lines with a pedestrian walkway on a grille suspended between the two deck boxes.

Flint & Neill director Ian Firth said the forward rake of the mast enabled the back stays to be splayed sideways and anchored alongside the adjacent road, so that no cables crossed any roads.

'We believe we have come up with an iconic design with the potential to become an universally recognisable symbol of Helsinki,' Firth added.

'Its nickname is Makihyppaaja, which is Finnish for skijumper, and the Finns have a long tradition of success in the event. Now the challenge is to make sure it gets built.' Firth's design team, which included London-based architect Studio Bednarski and Finnish consultant Innostructura Oy, beat off competition from 21 firms, seven of them non-Finnish. A shortlist of five teams submitted designs, each receiving just over £9,000 for their entries.

At an estimated cost of more than £8M, the ski-jumper design was significantly more expensive than other shortlisted entries.

Second place went to the cheapest, a locally designed £3M multispan concrete structure.

The judges described this as 'economical', but 'ordinary and impersonal'.

A key link in a massive redevelopment of the city's old docks area, the new crossing is planned to be built during 2004-06. The competition jury added a warning to its choice of the Flint & Neill design - that further design development should be concentrated on cutting the cost of the structure.

INFOPLUS www. hkr. hel. fi/tied/pressi

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