Mary Elmes Bridge

Cork, Ireland

The international competition-winning Mary Elmes Bridge provides a new pedestrian and cycle route linking Merchants Quay and St Patrick's Bridge. The €5 million bridge is projected to be used by up to 11,000 people each day and is already a providing a popular crossing over the River Lee in central Cork.

Located on axis with Harley Street, the design of the bridge eschews unnecessary structural gymnastics, opting instead for a low lying, arched steel box girder; the soffit of which is shaped with a gentle semi-elliptical form across the water. The uninterrupted single span results in a clear body of water over which the bridge hovers. On a calm day, the waters of the river reflect the bridge and complete the elliptical form.

The primary arched box girder of the bridge is fabricated from high-grade steel plate and coated with a protective paint treatment in an off-white colour. This provides a finish which is extremely durable and suitable for the marine environment.

Framed stainless steel tension mesh infill panels are fixed back to the parapet posts providing safe, but relatively transparent, guide rails that encourage views up and down the river. The parapet posts are painted dark grey to help contrast their distinctive v-shaped silhouette against the backdrop of the main arched girder.

At midspan, a tactile timber bench is neatly framed with stainless steel edges and supported on brackets that extend from the central structural spine, encouraging users to pause and take in stunning views of the river and the surrounding city. 

The bridge has been funded by the National Transport Authority (NTA) and European Union Designated Urban Centre Funding from the Southern Regional Assembly.