03 September 2017

Introducing ... the Bridge Awards for Mediocrity and Plain Old Terribleness

The "Carbuncle Cup" has been running for several few years now, a contest to uncover the worst examples of new British architecture, and it's never been short of material. For non-UK readers, the origin of that contest's name can be found at Wikipedia and elsewhere.

Many thanks to Bridge Design and Engineering magazine on Twitter, who recently asked the following question with regard to the Carbuncle Cup:
Do we need it? Not really. Should we do it anyway? Well here it is, the inaugural BAMPOTs. (Again, for readers unfamiliar with the source idiom, see online).

I'm a firm believer that we (the industry that promotes, designs and builds bridges) can learn as much from failure as from success, and we should never be afraid of being honest. The idea of learning from structural failure has a long tradition, but here I'm looking to consider a wider range of failures: function, appearance, delivery etc.

When better to announce this new award than in the week when some of the industry's very best will be celebrated at the Footbridge Awards? The need for some balance feels pressing.

I have some ideas of my own for candidates for this award, but I'm inviting open nominations here: just visit this page on the blog, and add your suggestion(s) in the comments. Please include a link to details of the bridge, and a brief description of why you think it deserves wider attention. Keep it short and to the point. Don't be libellous - I may not publish inappropriate comments.

Bridges should either have been completed within the last decade, or the site of a "failure" incident within that same time (e.g. a botched restoration etc). I'll stretch those limits if a particularly good candidate is put forward.

I'm not including unbuilt bridges, as I think London's Garden Bridge would currently have too large an advantage.

The deadline for nominations is midnight (GMT) on Friday 15th September, although it may be extended if I don't get sufficient response (or this whole exercise may be unceremoniously binned!) Please help get the word out by sharing a link to the BAMPOTs via social media etc: let's make a success out of celebrating failure together.

Subject to getting enough nominations, I'll then organise some kind of voting system to decide on an appropriate winner or winners.

29 comments:

David said...

RBS Bridge, Gogar, Edinburgh. http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2402855 Clunky, illogical, proto-ruin of a fading corporate giant. Seemingly designed to complement a corporate logo that will have the lifespan of a mayfly compared to the bridge. Cable arrangement puts an unecessary plan torque on the deck, and the arch looks chunky enough to carry the vertical live loads in bending alone. Grim and failed icon-ism, and a really poor introduction as you drive from the airport to the home of such triumphant Scottish bridge landmarks.

David said...

Borough High Street Bridge. Technically challenging to put in, but ludicrous as a piece of architecture. “Arch” shape has clear articulation of beginning and end, but dominant sight line along Borough High Street mean that only three quarters of the bridge is visible - meaning the bridge looks like it dives into the second floor of Pret A Manger. “Arch” truss chords pushed away from bridge deck which just creates visual confusion (and structural inefficiency) on a crowded site as the effect is lost. The feeling that it is all uneccessary is compounded by the fact that the girder on the other edge of the deck is a quarter of the depth and modestly matches the adjacent much older viaduct. https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/41+Borough+High+St,+London+SE1/@51.5051673,-0.0894228,3a,48.2y,28.03h,99.79t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sevrouAK9hq0tutnUduHPjg!2e0!4m2!3m1!1s0x4876035766e17d5f:0x94287beb7c72c315

Simon Wadsworth said...

Just for the balls to say we are not going to spend any more money and ending up with this glorious footbridge (or may be it's a previously unknown Salvador Dali).
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.5400851,-1.8233744,3a,19.8y,99.93h,92t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1s_qWCOnIWu729ejsgVkupzw!2e0!6s%2F%2Fgeo1.ggpht.com%2Fcbk%3Fpanoid%3D_qWCOnIWu729ejsgVkupzw%26output%3Dthumbnail%26cb_client%3Dmaps_sv.tactile.gps%26thumb%3D2%26w%3D203%26h%3D100%26yaw%3D340.61847%26pitch%3D0%26thumbfov%3D100!7i13312!8i6656

The Happy Pontist said...

Hah! That's an instant classic :-)

Simon Wadsworth said...

Actually I think I found the other half of the bridge on the M5 near Avonmouth.
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.5400851,-1.8233744,3a,19.8y,99.93h,92t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1s_qWCOnIWu729ejsgVkupzw!2e0!6s%2F%2Fgeo1.ggpht.com%2Fcbk%3Fpanoid%3D_qWCOnIWu729ejsgVkupzw%26output%3Dthumbnail%26cb_client%3Dmaps_sv.tactile.gps%26thumb%3D2%26w%3D203%26h%3D100%26yaw%3D340.61847%26pitch%3D0%26thumbfov%3D100!7i13312!8i6656
The west end detail is fine, but what happened to the east end of the bridge? Unless it was meant to join with the one in Swindon?

Simon Wadsworth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Felix said...

Seconding the nomination for Borough High Street Bridge. Its response to context is so poorly conceived. It's obtrusive and clashes with the surrounding buildings for no good purpose.

photo from installation showing the cross section https://folkestonejack.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/boroughhighstreet_270411_02.jpg

Anonymous said...

I'd like to propose Port Talbot's newest landmark - the new station cum footbridge in steel to celebrate the heritage of Port Talbot's past. Not a pretty sight I think. The spindly support trees at each end are a particularly unfortunate adornment.
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.5917495,-3.7797921,3a,75y,278.66h,92.69t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sJuUe5zlTxGGBVsRPpH7xMA!2e0!6s%2F%2Fgeo1.ggpht.com%2Fcbk%3Fpanoid%3DJuUe5zlTxGGBVsRPpH7xMA%26output%3Dthumbnail%26cb_client%3Dsearch.TACTILE.gps%26thumb%3D2%26w%3D96%26h%3D64%26yaw%3D301.7426%26pitch%3D0%26thumbfov%3D100!7i13312!8i6656

Kevin A said...

The Squibb Park footbridge had a failure in functionality due to its bounce:
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/17/nyregion/brooklyn-squibb-park-bridge-reopening.html

stone cutting said...

Have real doubts about this one. https://www.dundeewaterfront.co.uk/zones/seabraes/pedestrianbridge

Dave Cousins said...

Against the soft colours of Merthyr Tydfill set in the lush greenness of the Welsh Valleys now stands the imposing cream painted St Tydfil's Bridge (aka Central Link). Intentionally oversized, the unavoidable arch structure let's you know that someone had money to spend in 'regeneration'.

To me though, the terribleness lies in the unnecessary over design. The near 30m span steel grillage with composite reinforced concrete deck has no need for an asymmetric arch to support it. Instead the arch adds torsion, requires the cross beams to be as strong and stiff as the longitudinal beams and all six bearings must resist uplift forces. The arch itself is a square section 1x1m at the centre increasing to 1.4x1.4m at the ends formed from 60mm thick steel plates with full depth butt welds to all four corners of the section. The 14 hanger bars are all 90mm diameter!

Having said all that, it was fun to install.

Information is available here: http://www.steelconstruction.info/River_Taff_Central_Link_Bridge,_Merthyr_Tydfil

Anonymous said...

My vote goes to: Millenium bridge... in Ourense, Spain. I don't think it needs much explanation, just type "puente del milenio ourense" in Google and the images will make clear why!

MDMuk said...

Everything about this bridge. Looks horrible, goes nowhere, and it has the worst name of any bridge. "Bridge of scottish invention" https://canmore.org.uk/site/250943/irvine-harbour-bridge-of-scottish-invention

The Happy Pontist said...

Re: Puente del Milenio Ourense: good choice!

The Happy Pontist said...

Here's a great photo of the Bridge of Scottish Invention: https://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7280/6918420016_ef82c11081_b.jpg. Apparently, the Scots have invented that most radical type of bridge, one that doesn't go all the way across. Well done!

The Happy Pontist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Happy Pontist said...

I will also nominate Bristol's "cheesegrater" bridge, a structure where falling off your bike was likely to lead to a need for major skin grafts: http://happypontist.blogspot.de/2014/12/bristol-bridges-4-meads-reach-bridge.html. The bridge was such a danger to users that it had to be disfigured with warning signs. Since I reported on it in 2014, the deck has been resurfaced, but it's hard to believe why the dangerous decking was installed in the first place.

The Happy Pontist said...

Another nomination, China's Lucky Knot Bridge: http://www.nextarchitects.com/en/projects/lucky_knot?c=bridges. This monstrosity should need little in the way of comment, but I will specifically draw attention to the way in which what could have been an interesting whimsy has been ruined by someone who can only draw with a super-fat pencil; and the absence of any step-free access, inexcusable in such a major crossing regardless of the local culture.

The Happy Pontist said...

"It was a horrible sensation and I'll never walk over it again". This one is courtesy of @FiDaisyG on Twitter, Cabot Circus footbridge in Bristol. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/wonky-bridge-leaving-dozens-bargain-9534622

stone cutting said...

There are a number of "decorative" cable stays around. I will try to get some fresh pics of one in Exeter soon but in the mean time There is this in Leeds.
https://www.newcivilengineer.com/latest/council-for-north-should-drive-northern-powerhouse/10023231.article#.WbJZr2B4OQk.twitter

stone cutting said...

Is there a way of putting pictures here or do I need to post elsewhere and link?

The Happy Pontist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Happy Pontist said...

You must link elsewhere.

stone cutting said...

Can I do two for the price of one?

I have done a couple of essays:

http://billharvey.typepad.com/arches/2017/09/a-failed-attempt-at-flattery.html

http://billharvey.typepad.com/arches/2017/09/a-cable-stayed-bridge-that-isnt.html

The Happy Pontist said...

Here are a few more suggestions of my own, culled from a quick scan through old blog postings. Further details can be found at each post:

http://happypontist.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/yorkshire-bridges-16-ponds-forge.html

http://happypontist.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/london-bridges-43-limehouse-basin.html

http://happypontist.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/venice-bridges-4-ponte-della.html

http://happypontist.blogspot.co.uk/2009/06/tensegrity-bridges-4-kurilpa-bridge.html

The Happy Pontist said...

I think we'd better also have this on the list:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helix_Bridge

It largely speaks for itself, but this bridge's desperate layering of bling upon bling upon bling took excess to new levels. It's inspired by the shape of the DNA Helix, a form fundamentally unsuited to acting as a bridge truss.

Anonymous said...

https://rajhazare.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/cumberland-river-pedestrian-bridge_nashville_raj_h_9.jpg

When you start with a box girder then change your mind to a suspension bridge.

Ed Hollis said...

This particular part of this bridge: https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.5198454,-0.1796397,3a,90y,103.41h,89.84t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sfwiE9jl77Bf8sKYrSPuayA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

The Happy Pontist said...

How could I possibly have forgotten that one, Ed? Here it is in more detail: http://happypontist.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/london-bridges-21-paddingtoncentral.html