All it takes is one look: The story of the V&A Waterfront’s new swing bridge

All it takes is one look: The story of the V&A Waterfront’s new swing bridge

The serenity to accept what could not be changed, the courage to change what could, and the wisdom to know the difference, is why the V&A Waterfront’s updated swing bridge is a success.

 

“As designers we first had to learn about the constraints.
What you can’t change. We work from that,”

Explains Michal Korycki, an architect and director at Cape Town based Craft of Architecture (COA).

 

With the anticipation of the increased number of pedestrians crossing the channel to and from the Zeitz MOCAA and the popular Silo District the limitations of the old bridge were identified few years back. What was the solution? Well that was the question.

 

Called onto the project by respected bridge engineer John Anderson, SMEC’s Functional General Manager for Structures, the COA team knew it was going to be a learning  journey.

 

Recognised for their creative process and visual communication, COA were brought into a briefing process to perform site analysis, reviewing the existing bridge design and pedestrian movements. This research would reveal the project’s key features, opportunities and challenges.

The architects set out to build a 3D model of the entire site and the surroundings mapping out all relevant features. “This digital environment allows you to quickly test ideas and ‘what if’ scenarios drawing focus in the right direction,” Michal explains.

“Once the master plan concept is agreed upon we start the process again, repeatedly interrogating each design component until we get down to the smallest detail.”

In the urban form work phase we were plotting out every scenario including different types of bridges, augmenting the existing bridge and even installing the second bridge. Each option was scored on a matrix sheet plotting its cost and viability. The results led us to recommend that the new swing bridge be installed.

“We wanted to add to the urban environment and the experience of being in this celebrated precinct, and also to keep the view-line clear for those on the water, looking towards or away from the cut. We leant the bridge tower back to achieve both results,” explained Michal.

“As the V&A is a commercial environment, there could be no interruption in the switchover from the old to the new bridge. So, we decided to position the new bridge right alongside the old one so it could remain operational for five of the six installation months.”

 

It was far from plain sailing. Obviously there were lots of obstacles,” says John. “Among these were the harbour wall which we couldn’t strengthen,” noted Michal.

 

In the past, loose rocks and boulders were piled up and then cladded over to build the harbour wall. “There’s no great engineering in piling rocks on top of each other. The key was to not knock over this pile of marbles holding up the old quay wall,” says John.

 

They were able to stabilise the boulder mass by carefully drilling small holes into the bedrock, and injecting concrete to create “mini piles”, requiring the bridge to balance just right so that it would bear directly down into the rock.

Besides the foundations the team decided against any further land works. This freed them to build the bridge remotely, however instead of cables balancing the gravitational pull of the bridge as it swung out, the backwards-leaning tower was designed to take the load, allowing the whole bridge to pivot on its foundation.

 

“The bridge itself is planted on a giant slew bearing and as the bridge rotates it bears onto different piles.

 

In any position there are pile  in tension and compression. As it moves the tension is transferred into a vertical couple. This provides the restraint required: it’s pushing on one edge and being held back on another,” he said. Besides an  excellent level of function, the form had to be exquisite.

 

“We looked at the current bridge, and saw the contrast between the maritime designs of the time which had a lot of rigging and detail. We wanted to design a contemporary bridge influenced by modern maritime design so you could look at it once, and have the design guide your eye from top to bottom without being interrupted.

But, how do you bring a sideways swinging 42-metre, 55-ton bridge to a stop when your only resisting force to slow it is vertically downwards into a rock foundation surrounded by boulders leaning precariously on each other? “We paired pile couplings in the foundation, one to push and create tension, the other to pull and ease it,” explains John.

 

In part this meant no bulky hand railings, which previously contributed stability. Now the bridge had to be carried by the strength of a cantilevered beam along the centre which, decked with timber, now also provides a convenient place to sit. 

“Once we were more or less happy with the overall design we started looking at the visual experience of people nearby and those walking over the bridge. To help the eye rest on the beam and mast we made the balustrade as near to invisible as possible, as was the underside of the bridge.”

“Inspired by stealthy yachts and modern sailing boats we considered giving the bridge a dark colour, but we realised that seagulls would be quick to put white splats all over it. So it’s a light grey,” smiles Michal.  The teams’ intention was to answer this complex requirement with a simple design. “It needed to be refined, timeless, contemporary and unique,” said Michal.

Creating a bridge that could accommodate thousands of people crossing it every day, have manual operation if the power died and was simple to maintain throughout its lifespan, meant the architectural statement made by the new swing bridge is a beautiful answer to the question posed right at the beginning, of how exactly to do it.

When you next cross the bridge, taking it all in at a single glance, consider if this isn’t a picture worth a thousand words?

 

For more information on this project, see the V&A Waterfront Bridge project or view more of our award winning Bridges & Infrastructure projects.

BIM, the tool mastered by COA

BIM, the design and collaborative tool mastered by COA

Architectural projects are inherently complex, from ideation to documentation, to detailing and informative presentation to clients. BIM (Building Information Modelling) is an increasingly essential tool in this multi-tiered and collaborative design process.

The cloud-based service is accessible at a multitude of levels, of which COA is the most advanced Graphisoft/BIM office in the country. As a result, we use BIM in a highly integrated manner, enabling some of the most efficient and effective communication from clients to construction teams. COA Director, Ian Gray, elaborates on the reality which BIM creates.

 

For more information on Craft of Architecture, you can visit their Studio page or Contact page.

 

Distinction at Kerzner Estate – Site 19

Distinction at Kerzner Estate – Site 19

Tucked away on the quieter mountain slopes of the Atlantic Seaboard lies Kerzner Estate. COA was invited onto Site 19, located on the green belt of the estate, to build a home embracing the expansive views of the bay and the surrounding mountain range.

In the video below, COA Director, Ian Gray touches on the importance of process undertaken in the build of Site 19. Gray highlights the relationship between problem solving and designing for inspiration in creating a space which uplifts and serves its residents.

For more information on this project, please see the Kerzner Leeukoppie Estate House 19 Feature project or view more of our award winning Single Residential projects.

V&A Waterfront Bridge Official Opening

V&A Waterfront Bridge Official Opening

Cape Town, South Africa

Thursday the 11 of July 2019 marked the official opening of the pedestrian bridge at the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa.

John Anderson (SMEC) opened with a speech about the design of the bridge and its challenges, the unveiling followed by the mayor Dan Plato. COA (design team: Ian Gray & Michal Korycki) joint ventured with SMEC on this prestigious project. It’s been a great journey, thank you to all involved for the patience and support.

For more information on this project, see the V&A Waterfront Bridge project or view more of our award winning Bridges & Infrastructure projects.

Introducing Gold Coast Estate

Introducing Gold Coast Estate

From the developers of Ocean Dune Sibaya and Pebble Beach Sibaya comes the exceptional Gold Coast Estate.

 

For more information on this project please see:

Gold Coast Estate (Multi-Residential)

Gold Coast – G01 (Single Residential)

Introducing Zimbali Lakes Resort

Introducing Zimbali Lakes Resort

KwaDukuza, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Experience a new chapter in the Zimbali legacy at Zimbali Lakes Resort.
 

For more information on this project please see:
Zimbali Lakes Resort Feature (Journal Entry)
Zimbali Lakes Resort (Commercial & Mixed Use)
Zimbali Lakes Resort (Master Planning & Urban Design)

Introducing Ocean Dune Sibaya

Introducing Ocean Dune Sibaya

Luxury seafront apartments occupying prime position within the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast’s new Sibaya Precinct, OceanDune Sibaya is set to be the landmark development inside this high-end coastal node.

 

For more information on this project please see:

Ocean Dune (Multi Residential

Ocean Dune (Commercial & Mixed Use)

Just in Time for Summer Break!

Just in Time for Summer Break!

Vamizi Island is one of COA’s feature projects. 6 private villas have been designed and built in ways to compliment this pristine environment – enjoy!

 

For more information on this project please see:

Vamizi Island (Feature Project)
Vamizi Private Villa Collection (Hotels & Lodges)

Vamizi Island (Estate Guidelines)

Kipila Villa (Single Residential)

Suluwilo Villa (Single Residential)

Vamizi Private Villa Collection Hotels and Resorts

Umhlanga Arch – Development Editorial

Umhlanga Arch – Development Editorial

Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

For more information on this project please see:

Umhlanga Arch (Feature Project)

SMG Umhlanga Rocks (Interiors & brand Architecture)

SMG Umhlanga Rocks (Commercial & Mixed Use)

Hilton Hotel (Hotels & Lodges)

Hilton Hotel (Interiors & Brand Architecture)

Zimbali Lakes Resort Feature

Zimbali Lakes Resort Feature

KwaDukuza, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Experience a new chapter in the Zimbali legacy at Zimbali Lakes Resort.

For more information on this project please see:

Introducing Zimbali Lakes Resort (Journal Video Entry)
Zimbali Lakes Resort (Commercial & Mixed Use)
Zimbali Lakes Resort (Master Planning & Urban Design)

Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Youtube
Consent to display content from Youtube
Vimeo
Consent to display content from Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from Google