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A special structural design of the Prince Claus Bridge in Dordrecht Brugontwerp Civiele kunstwerken Integraal ontwerp

Anything but standard

An imposing counterweight pylon and pendulum that reaches high into the air and performs an impressive movement when opening and closing the bridge. A unique movement concept and ambitious design. The new Prince Claus Bridge which is to be built in Dordrecht is anything but standard and presents vital technical challenges for Iv-Infra. The architectural design is highly ambitious and for the most part, determinative for the technical elaboration of the design. In 2018, the municipality of Dordrecht awarded the structural design and implementation for the Prince Claus Bridge to construction combination, Dura Vermeer and Hillebrand. Iv-Infra has been commissioned by this combination to develop the reference design into an integral final design and implementation design.

Architectural eye-catcher

The Prince Claus Bridge is a new, movable bicycle and pedestrian bridge that will connect the centre of Dordrecht to the new district of Stadswerven. It is set to be an architectural eye-catcher for Dordrecht. The bridge is 141 metres long and consists of two steel approach ramps and a movable deck section of almost 50 metres in length (measured from the pivot axle). The bridge spans the waterway diagonally, causing the movable deck to be considerably longer than the 23-metre wide navigable passage of the bridge. The Prince Claus Bridge is hydraulically driven, and the movable deck is held in balance around the pivot axle by a unique system consisting of a vertically hinged counterweight pylon that is held upright by a pendulum.

Ambitious design

Architect RenĂ© van Zuuk, the creator of the reference design, explains in his own words: “When opening and closing, the bridge performs a wonderful movement. The counterweight pylon first bends forward and then retracts, which means that when opening, the counterweight pylon moves towards the span and reaches a standstill together with the movable deck at 85 degrees. When closing, the counterweight pylon remains with the movable deck for the first 45 degrees of the movement, after which the counterweight pylon majestically rises to its upright position again.” The steel and concrete structures of the bridge have been given a smooth flowing form. The two main girders of the movable deck gradually become thinner as they reach upwards above the deck from the pivot point and merge smoothly with the central reservation of the western approach ramp. The main girders separate at the back of the movable deck to provide room for the counterweight pylon and merge together into one main girder at the front. The main girders are interconnected by trusses at the point where they separate. 

The steel approach ramps are also smooth and sleek in design. The eastern approach ramp curls together with two bridge sections around the chamber pillar to form a single deck at the end of the bridge. The cyclists and pedestrians crossing the bridge are guided in both directions around the counterweight pylon and pendulum and thereby have a magnificent view of the impressive bridge mechanism. Because the chamber does not need to house a counterweight, it was possible to design it as a round fanned pedestal, slenderly rising from the water.

Due to the high design requirements, all pivot points of the movable sections (six in total) are completely concealed under hoods and merge with the adjacent structural components.
The positioning of the pivot points and safekeeping of maintenance access in the technical design proved to be a real challenge in practice, particularly as there was limited space available for these components.

Both hydraulic cylinders may be visible and are therefore positioned outside of the chamber. The arrangement and operation of the cylinders are clearly visible from the east side of the bridge.

Technical design challenges for Iv-Infra

The unique movement concept and the ambitious design of the reference design formed the most important challenges in the elaboration of the architectural design. When elaborating into a feasible, maintainable and reliably functioning technical design, all components had to be intensively coordinated to meet the high design requirements. You can read more about the technical design challenges and the structural design of the Prince Claus Bridge in this article, that recently appeared in the Bruggen (Bridges) trade journal.

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