Kurilpa Bridge is the world’s first hybrid tensegrity bridge. The Kurilpa Bridge provides a pedestrian and cycle crossing over the Brisbane River.  Australia’s Queensland State Government briefed a new bridge design in the state capital, Brisbane. There was an unbeatable budget in this brief and it was a challenging task. The aim was to make a striking pedestrian and bicycle bridge that would suit the important location of the bridge.

Building on the tensegrity work of Buckminster Fuller and sculptor Kenneth Snelson, the design team designed the tension solution in an innovative, visually light, and buildable form. The application of the term tensegrity as a large building has been a major question for architects and engineers. The successful implementation of tensegrity on the Kurilpa bridge represents a first in the world.

The bridge consists of composite steel and concrete deck frames, the stainless steel masts and cables series, and the interconnected set of steel bonds, flying linings, and tensile canopy. The geometry of the bridge is informal, and the cables and tubes (in tension) (in compression) are structurally rhythmically organized. This offers the power and stability required for a scheme of thousands of pedestrians and bicycles. With a length of 470 meters and a width of 6.5 meters, the Kurilpa Bridge has multiple observation decks and a full-length canopy, all of which are protected by a secondary tensegrity frame. Connecting the two central areas in Brisbane, the bridge has a relaxation and viewing platform, two recreational areas, and a canopy that runs along the length of the bridge which is suitable for all weather conditions.

The bridge was completed in September and opened to pedestrians in October 2009. Kurilpa is one of the first large solar-powered, 84 photovoltaic panels pedestrian bridges in the world.

The panels supply between 75% and 100% of the power needed for lighting with the surplus energy fed to the grid.

At night, the bridge is lit with a complex LED lighting pattern that can be designed to create a series of different lighting effects. In certain lighting configurations, 100% of the electricity would be provided by solar power, with any surplus power returning to the mains. This would mean about 37.8 tons of carbon dioxide reductions per year.