A design by the architect of the Millennium Spire on Dublin’s O’Connell Street has been selected for a new €6 million pedestrian and cyclist bridge across the river Liffey in Dublin.
The bridge design by Ian Ritchie, in the National War Memorial Gardens at Islandbridge, is the London-based architect's first major commission in Ireland since winning the competition to design the spire 20 years ago.
More than 60 architects entered the competition to design the bridge which will span a 40m distance across the river beside the UCD boat club on the Chapelizod Road.
Mr Ritchie’s winning design was described by the judges as “a simple and elegant way of stepping from one side of the Liffey to the other. A slender blade of stainless steel leaps from the reeds and rushes to cross over the river”.
Stainless steel reed-like balustrades will line the bridge which will have a lightweight low-rise base. The stainless steel deck surface of the bridge will be imprinted with representations of soldiers’ boots to “recall those who walked before us but did not return”.
Ciarán O’Connor, State architect and chair of the competition jury, said the brief was for a design that was “meaningful and memorable, that enriches the present, honours the past”. The winning entry “understands and distils the essentials of the competition through a simple, but not simplistic, bridge design that springs the river with elegance and ease. Its design is calm and captivating yet resonates with multi-layered inspiration. A fitting winner.”
A new entrance to the memorial gardens will be created beside the boat club on the Chapelizod Road which will eventually link up with a future entrance to the Phoenix Park to give cyclists and walkers a direct route to the Magazine Fort in the park.
Sir Edwin Lutyens who designed the memorial gardens, had planned a bridge at this point, but it remained unbuilt.
Kathryn Meghen, Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland chief executive, said the bridge would "complete the great vision of Sir Edwin Lutyens and will be there for Dubliners and others to enjoy for many years. I would like to commend all of the architects who submitted designs. Architectural competitions are a demonstration of the profession's commitment to innovate and deliver new solutions for the public good."
The bridge, which will be prefabricated and installed in sections, is expected to be in place within the next two years. Ian Ritchie Architects will receive a prize of €15,000 for the winning entry.
Kevin “Boxer” Moran, Minister of State for the Office of Public Works (OPW), described the memorial gardens as one of the most “culturally significant sites” in the city.
“The role of the OPW is to both protect and present our built heritage for citizens and visitors, and the completion of the new commemorative bridge, in line with the original vision, will enhance these gardens for all to enjoy.”