Project Details

Client: SANRAL
Value: R 75 million (tender value 2000)
Category: Bridges
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Completed: 2000 (tender)



Henry Fagan Consulting Engineers & Project Managers proposed a bridge design for the Nelson Mandela Bridge over the railways linking Braamfontein and Newtown in Central Johannesburg. Henry Fagan Consulting Engineers & Project Managers felt that the site required a bold, sculptural solution from an architectural point of view, and that a cable-stayed bridge would not offer enough of a contrast from the clutter of railway masts, cables and tracks present on site.

The design, based purely on structural principles combining bending moments with prestress forces, comprises a tower and three “waves” of decreasing height, lending a zoomorphic quality to the bridge. The leaning tower counters the cable forces in the top of the fin, and also acts as a strong focal point for the Newtown suburb, earmarked by authorities for urban regeneration. A variation on the design included an enclosed space at the top of the tower to be used as a radio station of museum, accessible via a sloping lift.

The design makes use of locally proven technology (incremental launching & post-tensioning) for a totally unique structure with no precedent anywhere in the world, all the while minimizing disruption to traffic during construction. Ultimately, the design came a very close second to the winning cable-stayed bridge and was not chosen for construction.

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