The design vision for Lille Langebro, by WilkinsonEyre, was for an elegant bridge, which beautifies the town’s canal side and confirms the city’s reputation as the world’s best for cycling.
The project was recently awarded with a 2020 International Architecture Award from The Chicago Athenaeum and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.
The bridge follows an elegant curve, which aligns with the great arc of ramparts and moat of Christianshavn.
The structure is arranged as two wings, shaped acutely to divide light from shade; the graceful curved profile of the bridge only becomes broken when the two swinging sections open for marine traffic. The primary steelwork is painted in a uniform off-white, drawing attention to its curved form and the changing play of light on the water.
Lille Langebro is a sculptural object in Copenhagen’s landscape, establishing itself within the context of the city and Inner Harbour.
The surrounding spaces have been revitalized to provide public space and encourage social interactions with the cityscape.
Cycle traffic on the adjacent Langebro road bridge has increased since 2008. Lille Langebro brings cyclists away from the traffic, providing a safe route for an estimated 3,000 cycle users a day.
Concealed lighting in the handrails illuminates deck and wings providing access at night and creating a ribbon of light between abutments. Maximum 1:20 gradients ensure that the bridge is fully accessible.
Environmental and social sustainability was addressed and considered throughout all stages of design and construction.
The architects’ approach delivers a 100-year design life, creating resilient infrastructure with an extended life span and ensuring the highest levels of material quality for the client and the city’s residents. LED lighting has been used across the length of the bridge to ensure low levels of operational carbon.
The swinging opening mechanism also reduces energy usage compared to other methods as the is no need to over-come gravity as there would be with other lifting methods.
The bridge incorporates cutting-edge design with unique technical solutions. While delivering an elegant, linear design, the function of Lille Langebro as a swing bridge remains entirely concealed.
The motors and slewing ring are housed within the hollow bridge piers. Hydraulic power units are housed in cavities inside the outer deck members.
In order to maintain a slender profile in elevation, a moment connection connects the moving parts together at midspan.
Enlarged chambers are provided adjacent to the moment connection to accommodate the hydraulic rams and associated mechanical parts.
At midspan, the structure is higher than at the quaysides to allow for the required 5.4 m shipping clearance.
Together with the curved alignment and raised, ‘wings’ views are modulated in a gradual reveal of the surroundings.
The bridge opening, estimated at around 200 times per year, will become a celebrated spectacle along the Inner Harbour.
Lille Langebro has created an elegant piece of infrastructure, which fits within its historic surroundings. The bridge has successfully responded to the client’s vision to create a high-quality transport link that exists subtly and elegantly and is loved by both locals and visitors to Copenhagen.
Project: Lille Langebro
Landscape Architects: Urban Agency
Client: Realdania By & Byg
General Contractor: Joint Venture Mobilis Danmark – Hollandia Infra I/S
Structural Engineers: BuroHappold
Lighting Consultants: Speirs and Major
Photographer: Rasmus Hjordis