Kurilpa Bridge

by | 18. Jul 2012

Infrastructure/ transportation | Project

Photo: David Sandison


The new Kurilpa pedestrian and cycle bridge connects Brisbane’s Central Business District with the city’s South Bank and its major cultural precinct. 

The design of the worlds largest tensegrity bridge utilises renowned architect, Buckminster Fuller’s principle of tensegrity, producing a synergy between balanced tension and compression components, to create a light structure that is incredibly strong.

The inherent strength in the tensegrity system meant that the deck could be very thin.  As river navigation requirements entailed the bridge needed to be 11 metres above the bank on the South Bank side, the 900mm deck enabled us to minimize the ramp down which otherwise would have eaten into Kurilpa Park, a significant historic meeting place for Aboriginal people.
/Michael Rayner

Measuring 470 metres long and 6.5 metres wide, the Kurilpa Bridge has several viewing decks and a full length canopy, both of which are supported by a secondary tensegrity structure.


Photo: David Sandison



Photo: David Sanderson


Neither Cox Rayner nor Arup, lead by its engineer Tristram Carfrae, had any particular metaphor in mind when designing the bridge, but sought to demonstrate a completely new way to span a river that Brisbane could embrace as its own.

If anything, we thought more abstractly of dance or contemporary symphony – seeing the bridge as a convergence of art and structure leading people towards the city’s art galleries.
/Michael Rayner

Photo: Christopher Frederick Jones

At night, the bridge is lit with a sophisticated LED lighting scheme which can be programmed to produce an array of different lighting effects. In most lighting configurations, 100 per cent of the power will be provided by solar energy with any surplus power returned to the main grid.  This will amount to savings of around 37.8 tons of carbon emissions each year.


Photo: Pete Dillon, CFJPhotography



Photo: Ray Cash



Photo: Pete Dillon, CFJPhotography


Image courtesy Arup

This is the second project the two practices have collaborated on in the last decade following the completion of the Goodwill Bridge in 2000.  Both bridges are part of a comprehensive process by the Queensland Government to interconnect two of the city’s major precincts.

Analysis model with forces under dead load.

Cox Rayner – Arup have also collaborated on the “Helix Bridge” in Singapore, which is scheduled to complete in March 2010.


Photo: David Sandison



ARCHITECTCox Rayner Architects