Cork's Shakey Bridge hoping to sway judges for prestigious global award

Past winners of the award include Sydney’s Opera House, the Pompidou Centre in central Paris, and the Severn Bridge in the UK
Cork's Shakey Bridge hoping to sway judges for prestigious global award

Daly's Bridge, better know as the Shakey Bridge. Picture: IStructE

What do the Shakey Bridge, Court no 1 at the All-England Tennis Club at Wimbledon, a futuristic megastructure at a Bejing airport, and a Colombian skyscraper have in common?

All are construction projects shortlisted for a prestigious international engineering award.

In total, 53 projects from around the world make up the 2021 Structural Awards Shortlist, compiled by the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE).

With last year’s awards cancelled due to the pandemic, this year’s judges have had their work cut out for them, and double the amount of projects to choose from.

The IStructE awards seek to "celebrate the creativity, ingenuity and skill of structural engineers worldwide". 

Past winners include Sydney’s Opera House, the Pompidou Centre in central Paris, and the Severn Bridge in the UK.

The shortlisted projects fall into 13 distinct categories: Construction Innovation; Long Span Structures; Minimal Structural Intervention; Pedestrian Bridges; Small Projects; Structural Artistry (non-building structures); Structural Heritage, Structural Transformation; Structures in Extreme Conditions; Tall or Slender Structures; Vehicle Bridges; and Zero-Carbon Ambition.

The Shakey Bridge

It is the 'Structural Heritage' category under which Cork’s iconic Daly (Shakey) Bridge was chosen.

Restoration of the landmark began in August 2019 and the footbridge reopened to the public last December.

IStructE notes that the Shakey Bridge “remains the only suspension bridge in Cork city and the only surviving bridge of its type in Ireland”. 

The “meticulous” refurbishment of the bridge was singled out for particular praise, with judges expressing admiration that all involved in the project worked together to ensure the bridge retained its characteristic shake.

The Mary Elmes Bridge


Cork's newest pedestrian and cycling bridge – the Mary Elmes Bridge. Picture: Henry O'Brien via IstructE
Cork's newest pedestrian and cycling bridge – the Mary Elmes Bridge. Picture: Henry O'Brien via IstructE


Cork’s newest pedestrian and cycling bridge, the Mary Elmes Bridge is also shortlisted, this time under the 'Pedestrian Bridge' category.

Judges noted the bridge was designed in a way that “was sympathetic to the existing fabric of the city".

They said engineers involved in the project demonstrated "great consideration for ease of constructability”, given the bridge itself was fabricated off-site in nine individual sections.

Other Irish projects

The pair of Cork bridges were not the only Irish nominees, however. 

The extension of the Guinness Storehouse’s Gravity Bar is among the finalists for the 'Minimal Structural Intervention' award.

The Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse. Picture: IStructE
The Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse. Picture: IStructE

Here, judges noted how this project used a "creative strategy" to adapt and extend an existing structure while ensuring the storehouse below – a protected historic structure – remained fully operational.

The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge connecting Wexford and Kilkenny across the River Barrow is shortlisted under the 'Vehicle Bridge' category.

Judges said the bridge was “impressive in scale and slenderness", and that its “optimised design” make it a “statement piece of engineering”. 

The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge over the River Barrow. Picture: IStructE
The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge over the River Barrow. Picture: IStructE

The final Irish nominee is the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA)  Visual Control Tower at Dublin Airport – Ireland’s tallest occupied building.

Selected under the 'Tall or Slender Structures' category, IStructE judges noted the IAA tower was designed in such a way to ensure it could operate “even in the most inclement weather conditions" and labelled it “a coherent engineering story – elegant, efficient and purposeful”.

Winners of each category, as well as an overall winner, will be chosen by a specialist panel at a gala awards dinner in London on November 5.

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