Highway over the Creek
The Creek, which winds through the old part of the city of Dubai, is not the mouth of a river. Perhaps millions of years ago this was the place where a river poured out of the mountains into the Persian Gulf, but now it is a narrow arm of the sea that forms a natural harbour and cuts the modern city in two. The renovation and addition of bridges is a necessity for the still rapidly expanding city.
Where the floating bridge now lies, just in front of Creek Park on the west bank of the Creek, the Dubai authorities wanted to build a new bridge. Architectural studio ZJA, in collaboration with OKRA Landscape Architects and IV-Infra, produced a design for this 7th bridge. The scale of the task was immense, since an eight-lane highway has a long crossing to make here. Furthermore, because of the recreation areas close by, it was important for the bridge to include paths for cyclists and pedestrians. Plenty of space is available, so ZJA’s design brings all those different lanes together on the bridge but allows them to separate as soon as they reach the bank. This means that as soon as possible, pedestrians and cyclists take their distance from motor vehicles, while local traffic splits off from through traffic. Generously laid out approaches with transparent parapets provide an optimal view out over the water and the banks.
ZJA has also provided designs for the 5th and 6th bridges over the Creek in Dubai. The former is for a wide arched bridge with a curved bridge body that houses a multifunctional park high above the traffic, while the latter takes the form of three designs for a long bridge past Opera House Island, The Tube, L’Oiseau de Feu and The Park Bridge.
Combination of suspension bridge and cable bridge
The design for the 7th bridge is remarkable both visually and technically. It is asymmetrical, with a tall backward-leaning tower close to the east bank. The cables, which support the huge deck, suggest the elongated triangle shape of the lateen sail of a Dhow, the typical sailing ship used in this part of the world since ancient times. The effect is both magnificent and light, since the large span seems to require little bridge volume. This is made possible by a special technique used in the design. Together with IV-Infra, ZJA has created a combination of a suspension bridge and a cable bridge. The cables are not attached directly to the tower as they usually would be, but instead to a large suspension cable that loops over the top of the tower to connect the two sides. This structure means that the cables can all come close to the ideal 45-degree angle and so absorb the enormous forces efficiently. Above the Creek, the bridge is a powerful gesture in which innovative techniques and light design meld. Geometric patterns are incorporated into the ornamentation of the pylon that refer to local cultural heritage.
Bridge as part of the urban landscape
For pedestrians, the crossing is an experience. Via stairs and approaches at a distance from the highway, protected by transparent parapets, walkers reach the open deck with an uninterrupted view of the surroundings from a considerable height. Under the bridge too, the environment has been made as attractive as possible for them with skylights, fountains, the use of sparkling stone and seating. Even after sunset, the long, slim shape of the bridge with its carefully designed lighting makes it a striking sight in the lively urban landscape.
Landscape architect: OKRA Landscape architects.
Structural advice: IV-Infra
Commissioned by: Road & Transport Authority Dubai
Year of design (not built): 2008