Cox Rayner Architects and Arup team up to produce world's largest 'tensegrity' bridge in Australia

The world’s largest tensegrity bridge has been opened in Queensland, Australia. Design by Cox Rayner Architects with Arup, the 470m long bridge relies on the careful balance of structural members which are either in tension or compression to create a light but incredibly strong structure.

The word tensegrity – a combination of tension and integrity – is a phrase coined by the architect and designer Buckminster Fuller.

The £35.5m pedestrian and cycle bridge connects Brisbane’s Central Business District with the city’s South Bank and its major cultural precinct.

Lead architect Michael Rayner says the inherent strength in the tensegrity system meant that the deck could be very thin.

He said: “As river navigation requirements entailed the bridge needed to be 11m above the bank on the South Bank side, the 900mm deck enabled us to minimise the ramp down which otherwise would have eaten into Kurilpa Park, a significant historic meeting place for Aboriginal people”.

Measuring 6.5m wide, the Kurilpa Bridge has several viewing decks and a full length canopy, both of which are supported by a secondary tensegrity structure.

At night, the bridge will be lit with an LED lighting scheme which can be programmed to produce an array of different lighting effects. In most lighting configurations, 100% of the power will be provided by solar energy with any surplus power returned to the main grid, saving around 37.8 tonnes of carbon emissions each year.