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Opladen

Leverkusen, Germany

Opladen bridge side view with people walking on the bridge

Opladen

Leverkusen, Germany

Client

Neue Bahn Stadt Opladen GmbH

Programme

2009 - 2016

Structural Engineer

Knippers Helbig / Schüssler Plan

Dynamic design in a harsh environment

Knight Architects and Knippers Helbig won the first prize in a 2009 international competition with a design for two cycle and pedestrian bridges for the city of Opladen. A common language was developed for the two bridges, which stand 400m apart.

The bridges were required as part of a major reorganisation of rail infrastructure in the region, including the release of a large area of former rail engineering works to form a new town quarter – Neue Bahn Stadt Opladen – and the phased realignment of freight lines to improve high-speed and commuter rail services.

Station Bridge forms the new accessible entrance to the railway platforms, replacing an aged tunnel, as well as linking the existing town centre of Opladen with the new development. Bridge users interact at different speeds, whether crossing the railway corridor by bicycle, accessing the station on foot or waiting to greet friends arriving at the town. The bridge safely accommodates the range of uses with wider areas for meeting points and highly-visible shared routes.

Campus Bridge provides a second connection to the mixed-use development, which includes new university facilities in the former engineering halls of the railway works. The final span of this bridge was installed the “wrong way round”, to observe clearance above railway lines which were not due to come out of service until 2019, when the span was rotated through 180 degrees to follow its permanent vertical alignment – an innovation which saved considerable costs.

Both bridges were designed as multi-span through-structures, with distinctive vertical fins (lamellae) providing a safe and attractive environment above the rail tracks. The superstructure consists of two Z-section weathering steel main beams, which are connected by cross members to form a trough cross section. The web heights of the longitudinal main beams adapt to the moment curve and vary according to span. The resulting wave-form is echoed in the timber-clad lamellae, creating a distinctive and playful visual form that is enjoyable to users.

Deck view on bridge with parapet details each side
Opladen Station lift with canopy above and bridge branching to the left and right
Train on left approaching underneath of bridge in distance

“The Station Bridge and the Campus Bridge are the two hinges interlinking the east and the west of the Bahnstadt. The two bridges not only handle cycle and pedestrian traffic between Opladen and the new district. Their extraordinary appearance has meanwhile become inscribed in the public consciousness. They cross the tracks as a pair of distinct objects that unfold sculptural qualities.”

– Vera Rottes, Managing Director of neue bahnstadt opladen GmbH
People looking through the parapet of the Opladen bridge
Deck view and view looking onto railway tracks and beyond from Opladen foot and cycle bridge
A crane lifting the foot and cycle bridge at Opladen Station.