Aesthetics & design Subscribe

Closer scrutiny of the quality and aesthetics of transport infrastructure, coupled with emerging technologies and new procurement routes is creating both challenges and opportunities for bridge designers. High-quality designs that please the eye are now routinely expected, but the time needed to consider, develop and finely-tune such creations is rarely acknowledged as a necessary part of the design process.

Meanwhile, working with contractors on design-build projects or as part of a P3 team can give designers a clear appreciation of the impact their decisions have at construction level, as well as the opportunity to influence efforts to reduce costs without sacrificing design quality. As always, the success of the outcome depends on good teamwork and in our supplement we take a look at the factors that contribute to this. New technology is feeding into the design process more than ever now, whether in the form of lighting systems that are designed to change in response to traffic levels or sounds; 3D printing from model scale to full-size bridges; virtual reality headsets that allow people to walk across unbuilt structures, or bridge information modelling that allows an unprecedented amount of information to be held in a single digital model.

However experts are warning of the potential for exploitation of the latter, and calling on companies to consider the benefits of a security-minded approach to information sharing. Ultimately, the fundamentals of good bridge design have changed very little over decades, but the ways in which we achieve them and the potential opportunities and pitfalls along the way are continuously evolving, as our supplement reflects.