The Peace Bridge

Derry~Londonderry, UK

Following a successful competition entry, WilkinsonEyre was commissioned to design a bridge across the River Foyle in Derry~Londonderry. Linking the redeveloped site of the former army barracks at Ebrington with the historic city centre across the water, the 235m-long cycle/footbridge follows an S-shaped alignment that resolves two skewed axes at each abutment and responds to views up and down the river.

The project was funded by the EU PEACE III Programme, which supports the creation of new, genuinely shared spaces to tackle the problems of separated communities in Northern Ireland and the Border region. For this reason, the bridge is conceived as a pair of self-anchored suspension bridges that overlap visually and structurally at the middle of the river in a symbolic demonstration of unity and concord.

The city of Derry~Londonderry in Northern Ireland is central to the turbulent political history of Ireland and as the inaugural UK City of Culture in 2013, has undergone an ambitious programme of economic, physical and social regeneration. WilkinsonEyre's Peace Bridge was central to this initiative. It was important that the bridge should not be visually allied to either bank of the river but to serve both in unison. It is designed as two identical halves, each suspended from a single, inclined steel pylon, which overlap at the centre of the river to form a 'structural handshake' – a powerful metaphor for reconciliation, drawing on inspiration from the sculpture "Hands Across the Divide" by Maurice Harron which can be found nearby.

Two arrays of filigree hangers support the concave edges of the bridge deck from catenary cables, which are supported at high level by the aforementioned inclined pylons. The fluid lines of the composition neatly frame views of the historic city and provide a contextual landmark for future generations.

The bridge is conceived as a pair of self-anchored suspension bridges which overlap visually and structurally at the middle of the river in a symbolic demonstration of unity and concord.