Futuristic Bridge in Abu Dhabi
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Futuristic Bridge in Abu Dhabi
Futuristic Bridge in Abu Dhabi

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Sculptural Bridge in Abu Dhabi
Is it the Tivoli Gardens' latest roller-coaster, a sculpture, sand dunes in the Arabian desert or the design for a new bridge? The Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, is a project of unusually challenging proportions
Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid – renowned for pushing the limits of architectural design - is the woman behind the Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi. Some of her best-known projects are the mind zone for the Millennium Dome in London's Greenwich area in 1999 and a ski-jump in Innsbruck, Austria in 2001. And she will undoubtedly make her mark again with her design for the extension to Denmark's Ordrupgaard Museum in northern Zealand.

An unusual bridge
Her special architectural design for the bridge in Abu Dhabi makes for a challenging assignment and certainly one of COWI's more unusual bridge projects. The bridge that will link Abu Dhabi Island with the mainland, including Dubai and the international airport, is shaped like a gigantic sculpture snaking between the lanes of traffic and features extreme proportions in concrete and steel.

"It is certainly not a standard bridge design," explains COWI project manager Henrik Andersen. "The advanced geometry of the steel arches and the solid concrete piers made it necessary to develop a highly detailed computer model of the bridge in order to determine its behaviour."

COWI has been hired by the Works Department in Abu Dhabi to independently check that the design of the bridge fulfils the design requirements. To this end, the bridge engineers have used the Integrated Bridge Design and Analysis System (IBDAS) program developed by COWI.

COWI uses IBDAS in all major bridge design projects, including Denmark's Great Belt and Øresund bridges and the Stonecutters Bridge in Hong Kong. Unique to this program is that 3D analysis models can be developed based on detailed geometric models of the bridge – including arches and girders.

In addition, the program features a wide range of analysis procedures for verification of the effects of e.g. earthquakes, strong winds, ship collisions and heavy traffic crossing the bridge.

Adds Henrik Andersen: "When it comes to bridge design, IBDAS is probably the leading software in the world – and one of the reasons why this project was awarded to us. On the computer we can build the bridge more or less as we expect it to look in reality. It is a very effective tool."

By: Christina Tækker, [email protected]
Published: 25.05.2004

The Sheikh Zayed Bridge
The Sheikh Zayed Bridge will be the third bridge to the island on which Abu Dhabi is situated. The highway bridge will have four lanes, an emergency lane and a pedestrian walkway in each direction.

The bridge is about 68 metres in width and 842 metres in length, with a central steel arch span of 234 metres. The central pier alone contains enough concrete to cover a football pitch to a height of five metres. The steel arch cross-sections are up to 6 x 8 metres. The bridge is due for completion in 2006.

Zaha Hadid
53-year-old Zaha Hadid is an architect with an individuality that attracts attention. Startlingly designed rooms and surprising angles characterise her designs. Examples of her work have been exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennial, and she has received numerous awards and won competitions around the world. In May 2004 she became the first woman to win the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Zaha Hadid's projects cover a wide field. At present she is working on a ferry terminal for the Italian city of Salerno, a plaza in Barcelona, the Guangzhou Opera House in China and an extension to the Price Tower arts centre in Bartlesville, USA. She is based in London.

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