img(height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="")

A beautiful blinking eye

Neil Thomas

Neil Thomas of Atelier One is inspired by the beauty and elegance of the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, designed by Wilkinson Eyre and engineered by Gifford

The bridge deck rotates up to allow large river traffic to pass beneath.
The bridge deck rotates up to allow large river traffic to pass beneath. Credit: Graeme Peacock

I walked across this bridge many times while working on the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead. When closed, it is quite spectacular, and a beautifully balanced piece of engineering. However nothing prepares you for the surprise when the bridge begins to rotate. 

Jim Eyre’s explanation of its genesis is ridiculously simple. When closed, the bridge was required to be 4.5m above the Tyne’s spring level, allowing small traffic. A direct connection between each quayside would be too steep. However he realised that curving the deck in plan could achieve the length required to produce a shallower incline. 

Here was the stroke of genius. He noticed that the bend of the deck to form the necessary curve was now 25m – the exact dimension that was required for clearance for large river traffic when the bridge was open. By simply rotating the horizontal deck, an arch structure to suspend the deck became obvious. 

The complex steel arch, made by Watson’s of Bolton [now Severfield (UK)], uses a varying kite section to alter the perception of the solidity of the arch. The entire structure was transported by floating crane on the Tyne and installed in one piece.

Truly a work of genius.


Jim Eyre’s sketch shows the concept for the footbridge in open and closed form.
Jim Eyre’s sketch shows the concept for the footbridge in open and closed form. Credit: Wilkinson Eyre Architects



Anna Heringer loves mud, and has won some big prizes for her rammed earth designs. For her, architecture is not just a building but a route to human development

Earth is the German architect’s route to human development

Court backs Zaha's executors to hold ZHA principal Schumacher in check as he continues to voice views at odds with the industry. Meanwhile the profession demands greater emphasis on building in PM's 'green industrial revolution', and Grenfell Inquiry is told Celotex manipulated fire test results

Plus Grenfell shock claim, ‘Festival of Brexit’, and hit built environment emissions, industry tells PM

Made from a majority of natural fibres, Trespa's premium facade solution is designed for longevity, simplicity and aesthetic appeal - it performs technically too

Made from natural fibres, Trespa's facade solution is long lasting and attractive

Made from phyllite metamorphic rock, Riverstone has an attractive silky appearance and strength that makes it suitable for multiple architectural uses

An extremely rare metamorphic rock, Riverstone is prized for its strength and beauty for all uses

It’s panto time and Russian architect Vladimir Somov’s nutty but run-down 1987 Dostoevsky Drama Theatre in Veliky Novgorod is in line for a revamp. The competition for the job is being curated by Haworth Tompkins director Roger Watts. RIBAJ asks him what’s behind it

What is the Haworth Tompkins director doing with Vladimir Somov's run-down theatre?