Award Winners 2018

The Bleichinsel Bridge in Heilbronn and the Weimar Suspension Bridge are the winners of the Bridge Building Award 2018.

The Bleichinsel Bridge across the Neckar River in Heilbronn and the restoration of the historic Suspension Bridge in Weimar are the winners of the German Bridge Construction Award 2018. The coveted award trophy was presented to Andreas Keil of the engineering office of schlaich bergermann partner, Stuttgart (for the Bleichinsel Bridge), and to Johann Philipp Jung, of the Foundation “Klassikstiftung Weimar”, and Oliver Hahn of the Weimar-based building maintenance engineering office (for the Weimar Suspension Bridge) to recognize their outstanding engineering achievements in planning and implementation.

The award winners and their teams were honoured in Dresden on March 12th, in the presence of about 1,200 guests comprising experts, politicians and business people. The event was hosted by the Federal Chamber of Engineers and the Association of Consulting Engineers VBI, which have jointly organized the German Bridge Construction Award every two years since 2006.

The Bleichinsel Bridge, Heilbronn

The new road bridge “Bleichinselbrücke“ in Heilbronn, as the prize-winning structure in the category „Road and Railway Bridges“, won over the jury with its elegance and the ingenious integral construction used for the columns. It has been awarded the German Bridge Construction Award because the engineers succeeded in combining and fulfilling all requirements for a beautiful, low-maintenance and cost-efficient building in a convincing manner. The flat, wide deck seems to float over the Neckar River, and the distinct inclined supports create a high-quality recreational space underneath the bridge, according to the jury’s opinion.

With a length of 88 m and a width of 24 m the busy four-lane bridge spans the Altneckar River in Heilbronn and connects the city centre with a new residential area being built along of the Federal Garden Show 2019. The new recreational areas and promenades within the lakeside zone created by this urban development became an important design frame for the new bridge.

It was created as a composite supporting structure with low-rise, inclined V-shaped columns, which are supported in the riverbank areas, and therefore do not require any disturbing pillar constructions in the riverbed. The four sloping support struts, on each bank side, are guided to only one support point each, which statically counteracts the horizontal support forces and led to reduced overall foundation efforts. Despite the flat river profile and the enormous width of the superstructure, the bridge appears light and almost floating. This impression is reinforced by the high surface quality of the main steel structure and the precast concrete elements, which also have a pleasant effect at close range.

Repair of the Schaukelbrücke suspension bridge in the Park at the Ilm, Weimar

According to the jury, the preservation of the suspension bridge in the Park at the Ilm in Weimar, built in 1833, is a prime example of responsible handling of architectural heritage. This renovation will be awarded the German Bridge Construction Award 2018 in the category „Pedestrian and bicycle trail bridges“ because the engineers courageously ventured into new ways beyond the standardised paths.
By disassembling the historical structure into its parts, analysing and experimentally inspecting it they managed to preserve the original historical structure in a fully functional way, maintaining its swinging sensation. „The result is not a new bridge in an ancient appearance, but rather the largely preserved original that has been secured for the future”, praised the jury.

The chain suspension Bridge is located in the southern part of the Park at the Ilm River and it is part of the UNESCO world cultural heritage site „Klassisches Weimar“. The most impressive feature of the bridge, which spans some 14 m, is its supporting structure: the three supporting chains each approximately 2 m long, are made of forged steel eye rods and guided over sandstone pylons which are anchored into the ground. At the time of construction the structure was given the name „Swinging Bridge“ because its wooden girder grid was not very stiff and susceptible to swinging.

In 2013, the bridge was so badly damaged by a flood that replacement or rehabilitation became imperative. First, the bridge had to be completely removed and the foundations and chain abutments had to be repaired. A load-check revealed that the calculated loads of the chain links no longer met the requirements of current codes. Initially, the historical chains were to be replaced by new steel eye rods that had a similar exterior appearance.

In cooperation between the Foundation Weimarer Klassik and creative engineers a path was chosen that made it possible to preserve as much as possible of the historical components while meeting modern safety requirements. For this, non-destructive testing methods were first configured and tested so that the required carrying capacity and deformability of all chain links could be verified. Only for safety reasons and to prevent people from falling from the bridge two additional horizontal steel strips had to be carefully inserted into the structure.