Architects: Cox Architecture with Architects 61
Location: Queen Elizabeth Walk, Esplanade Mall, Singapore
Consultant Team: Arup, Tierra Design, Landscape consultant, Davis Langdon
Cost At Completion Of Construction was SGD$82.900.000 (66,320,000 Million USD)
Construction By Sato Kogyo Pte Ltd
Project Completed 2010.
The Design Concept
The Helix bridge is a beautiful, lightweight stainless steel structure and is said to be the world’s first double helix curved bridge, whatever that means. The design was the winner in an international design completion held in 2006 and it beat 36 other designs.
A double helix is defined as ‘A pair of parallel helices intertwined about a common axis.’ The image in your mind should be the Watson and Crick’s 1953 sketch of DNA , that is a double helix.
The gently curving bridge links Marina Bay to the Marina Centre and is solely for pedestrians to use. The stainless steel structure is 280 metres long and weighs 650 tons. The bridge is actually sited above the Singapore River, rather than the sea. On an aside the bridge curves to the left, natural DNA curves to the right.
The design and the design process
The double helix walkway is an extremely complicated structure and had to be engineered and fabricated with very high degree of accuracy. The stainless steel bridge was designed by a consortium, including the Australian Architectural Practice, Cox and the engineering was designed by Arup. From Singapore the spectacularly talented Architects 61 were included in the architectural team as they had actually produced the original architectural design. The company also developed the Botanical Gardens, that structure makes it onto the list of the top ten attractions to visit in Singapore.
I visited the bridge with my family in 2013. We walked over the bridge and took photos from the viewing platform along its length. The bridge is light and airy, no wobbling.
You get a killer view of the Marina Bay Sand casino and adjacent area. I mention this as Double Stone Steel supplied stainless steel for the casino project.
The Helix bridge is almost lost in the huge amounts of iconic landmarks in Singapore. The bridge unbelievably, does not feature on any top 10 sites to visit in Singapore. It is just a beautifully constructed, beautifully functional piece of engineering. It gets you from A to B with spectacular views on the way.
I come from a construction background, very high-end interior projects all over the world to be exact. Part of the construction process for a hotel project, is mock-ups. Mock-ups for all the furniture and mock-ups for all the room types, so not mood boards or looking at a couple of tiles. We would make full sized room simulations of how the room would actually be seen by the end users. Models can be a nightmare, all the designers, architects, owners and finally the hotel management have to sign them off.
On the Helix Bridge project the engineers took mock-ups to another level by mocking up the entire bridge in mild steel. The whole bridge, not sections or joints or flanges, the whole structure was mocked up in the factory and then on the finished bridge every element was also fully assembled before being sent to the construction site. The mock-up alone took one year to complete. This complex process eliminated many potentially costly mistakes in the fabrication process.
The bridge was constructed out of grade 2205 Duplex Stainless steel. This grade of stainless steel was used for its combination of tensile (means you can pull or stretch it) strength. The 2205 stainless steel is also very good at resisting fatigue and corrodes evenly.
There are canopies within the inner spiral fabricated from fritted glass and perforated steel mesh. These are positioned to create shade for passers-through. On the exterior of the structure are illuminated letters c, g, a and t which represent the four bases of DNA (cytosine, guanine, adenine, thymine).
Which brings us back to the first point made in the article!
Other Architecture Posts
Here we look at every kind of architecture, often including steel and other metals of course, current and historical usually by famous and influential architects but sometimes by names that are surprisingly lesser known.
The conviction of Rafael de La-Hoz Arderius and Gerardo Olivares to build a minimalist sculpture of steel, glass and travertine on an urban scale.
Robin Fisher explores this building, located at the gateway of Los Angeles' famous Museum Row, extensively renovated through the work of Kohn Pedersen Fox and A.Zahner.
Richard Storer-Adam reviews the design and construction of this 64-story skyscraper, built in the 1970’s with Cor-Ten steel, symbolising the triumph of the US Steel industry.
Richard Storer-Adam reviews the background and architecture of this iconic modernist glass and bronze tower by German-American architect Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe and American associate architect Philip Cortelyou Johnson.
Antonio Moll reviews the first work by the Dutch Office in the USA, 16 years after its opening, considering what is probably the most disrupting piece of architecture of the 21st Century.
Richard Storer-Adam dwells on the genesis of NYC’s most iconic skyscraper and ‘quintessential symbol’ of Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA named after the Flatiron district.
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How our use of metals and finishing processes features in design today and since prehistoric times.
Considered the second most influential car of the 20th Century just after the Ford Model T the Mini is a British Pop-culture icon.
Richard Storer-Adam recounts the work of this influential industrial designer, famous for his work with Walt Disney Studios, through two of his favourite products created in the style of Streamline Moderne.
Richard Storer-Adam gives a brief history of two essential modern-day products - hypodermic needles and steel pipes - and the manufacturing technique that connects them.
Richard Storer-Adam gives a brief tutorial on Rose and Rose Gold watches, watch straps, lugs and integrated wrist bands including the Rolex Glidelock system in 904L stainless steel.
An appreciative and honest critique of this dramatic architectural work - Lola Adeokun shares her experiences and feelings whilst visiting Niemeyer’s museum of art in Rio de Janeiro.
Richard Storer-Adam gives an overview of the life of an iconic mid-century designer whose background as a blacksmith and empathy with metal fabrication played out in his work ranging from furniture, such as the famous Standard SP chair, to pre-fabricated buildings.