The Millennium Bridge
EC4 (North bank) to SE1 (South bank)
United Kingdom

Foster and Partners 2001

The Millennium Bridge is the first new bridge across the river Thames in London since Tower Bridge opened in 1894, and it is the first ever designed for pedestrians only. The bridge links the City of London near St Paul's Cathedral with the Tate Modern art gallery on Bankside.

The bridge opened initially on Saturday 10th June 2001. During this day and the next two days a huge amount of people crossed the bridge producing a sway movement that was far greater than expected; in order to fully investigate and resolve the issue the decision was taken to close the bridge on 12th June 2001.

It was re-opened on 27th February 2002. During that interval, extensive investigations and modifications were carried out to resolve the sway of the bridge. Research indicated that the sway had been caused by the accumulative sideways movement generated by large numbers of people crossing the bridge together. The solution involved installing dampers under the deck and between the deck and the river piers. This has provided an excellent solution as it does not detract from the aesthetic impact of the bridge as originally designed.

Foster and Partners' architectural concept for the bridge was developed in close collaboration with sculptor Sir Anthony Caro and Arup engineers. The concept was to create a structure of minimum intervention; a 'ribbon of steel' across the river. This has been achieved with a very shallow suspension bridge consisting of two 'Y' frames and eight cables, four each side. The lightweight deck, four meters wide, passes between these two sets of cables and is supported by structural arms which connect onto the cables at eight-meter intervals. The cables dip below the deck level at the mid-span point, so that the bridge does not impede views of London from further up and down the river. The lighting has been incorporated into the structure and is activated by photo-cells at dusk, transforming the structure into a 'blade of light'.

This bridge celebrates and encourages human movement and communication - free of traffic and accessible to everyone, it provides a key pedestrian link and a place to promenade while enjoying panoramic views of the city.

The Millennium Bridge is a simple concept that has achieved a simple form via a complex and innovative design.

John Perrin 2003, updated 2007

How to visit

The Millennium Bridge is situated between Blackfriars Bridge and Southwark Bridge on the river Thames in London. It is accessible 24 hours a day.

The nearest underground stations are Blackfriars or Mansion House, both on the Circle line and District line. The nearest mainline station is Blackfriars.

From the North side, approach the bridge along a path from Upper Thames Street, half way along the length of St Paul's Cathedral. From the South side, approach the bridge from the Tate Modern.

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