Gateshead Millennium Bridge

Gateshead, UK

Winner of the 2002 RIBA Stirling Prize, this unique crossing for pedestrians and cyclists was the world's first tilting bridge. It has become a new landmark for Gateshead and the Tyne, a river famous for its historic bridges. The bridge links Newcastle's thriving north bank with Gateshead Quays – the new arts and cultural quarter to the south. The bridge consists of two steel arches – a deck that acts as the pedestrian and cycle path, and a supporting arch.

These arches pivot around their common springing point to allow shipping to pass beneath. The motion is efficient and rational, yet dramatic beyond the capabilities of previously explored opening mechanisms. Since the whole bridge tilts, the composition undergoes a metamorphosis into a 'grand arch' of great width and grace, in an operation which evokes the action of a closed eye slowly opening. Visually elegant both when static and in motion, the bridge is spectacular by day and in its nighttime illumination.

The bridge has quickly achieved iconic attraction status, with local, national, and international visitors. During the summer months, non-shipping bridge openings occur daily to satisfy the demand from visitors to Newcastle and Gateshead wishing to see the unique spectacle of the bridge tilting. The Gateshead Millennium Bridge makes regular appearances on television as a backdrop to news items, factual entertainment, and dramas. The bridge is a new symbol for the Northeast and the backdrop for concerts, the Great North Games, and fairs.