5th Bridge, Dubai

The Creek is a winding arm of the sea that cuts through the rapidly growing city of Dubai on the Persian Gulf. For the city it is of great importance that the infrastructural connections are future-proof, so a tender was put out for ambitious designs for bridges over the Creek.

They include this design by architectural studio ZJA for a connection called the 5th Bridge. The fundamental idea behind it is to make the huge structure, which needs to carry no fewer than 12 lanes of traffic across the water, serve as an environment in which residents and visitors will want to spend time.

Staying on the bridge

The basic structure is a special version of an arched bridge, which the designers also call a ‘body bridge’, because the forces needed to carry the enormous deck are contained in the bowed shape of the four legs and back of the bridge body. Their effect is like that of the hull of a ship.

Anyone not wanting to get quickly to the other side, who instead has the bridge as their destination, is carried by the escalators in the four arched legs into an enclosed garden on top of the back of the giant animal that has stretched out across the Creek.


The secret garden on the bridge

The secret garden suspended above the rush of traffic and the Creek is no less than five thousand square metres in size. There are palms and almond trees, figs and pomegranates, even flower beds with orchids. The garden is protected from the sun and heat by a roof made of interwoven tilted elements, a contemporary application of the Mashrabiya (or brise soleil) principle used for centuries in the Middle East. The light bounces off the tilted edges of the openings, while the shaded space beneath creates a natural flow of air that ventilates the garden. The profusion of greenery and water is surrounded by public facilities, including a restaurant, an open-air theatre and educational institutions, such as the planned Institute for Ecological Education.

Green public space with a view

While this design by ZJA for the 5th Bridge over the Creek has a huge capacity for traffic, and therefore serves its primary function in a spectacular way, it also adds a huge amount of high-value public space to Dubai, and with a layout and design that are in accordance with local cultural traditions. Such comfortable, restful places are of great value in the increasingly busy city.

Moreover, with its height and location the bridge offers an unforgettable view of the Creek and the other bridges built across it. You are in a garden halfway between earth and heaven, made all the more exciting by the aircraft coming and going and the stream of traffic below on the Sheikh Zayed Road.

From the bank of the Creek, or from the air as you arrive or depart, this bridge adds a powerful, thrilling, dazzling eyecatcher to the city of Dubai, a magnet that draws the attention but also attracts visitors who want to stay for a while in an oasis floating above the water.

Architect: ZJA
Commissioned by: Road & Transport Authority Dubai
Year of design (not built): 2007

Project: #513




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