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The Helix Bridge is a 280-metre-long pedestrian walkway over the Singapore River that links the Marina Bay shoreline with Marina Centre.
This spectacular feat of engineering was designed by Cox Group architects, Arup engineers and local architects of the Architects 61 studio, who emerged as winners of a public tender held in 2006.
The opening of the world's first curved double-helix bridge, however, did not take place until April 2010. One of the strengths of the design is its ability to provide shade and shelter when the sun is at its strongest while also offering protection against heavy rains, the architects being very mindful of Singapore's tropical climate at all stages of the project.
The combination of these factors with the desire to create a structure that would become an international landmark led to an original and unique design.
It's not hard to see why the structure has been the recipient of numerous awards since its inauguration, for example the World's Best Transport Building Award.
The bridge consists of a structure with a curved base and features a double helix tube with five support points over the Singapore River. The upper part of the catwalk features glass panels which contrast with the two interlocking stainless steel coils that form a characteristic double helix around the tube.
The inspiration? There appear to have been several - first of all, the designers' wish to represent Singapore's history as a fishing port; then there is the 'yin and yang' concept, which in this case represents both "revival and growth" and "bearer of health, happiness and prosperity"; and finally the DNA chain from where the bridge gets its name.
The aim was to empower the walkway by means of a structure that alters its appearance at different points along its length.
More than 650 tons of stainless steel were used in the construction. While the bridge spans just 280 metres, if all the steel tubes we to be placed end to end they would reach almost 3 kilometres in length.
Would you care to guess how many pedestrians this bridge is designed to withstand? You may be surprised to know that, despite its apparent fragility, the structure can support more than 10,000 people simultaneously. A true marvel of engineering.
This bridge also features four lookouts which jut out from the structure at strategic locations and, while appearing to float over the river, offer fantastic 360o views of the city of Singapore. In addition the bridge serves as an art gallery and offers public exhibitions of drawings and paintings by local artists and children.
And finally, like all Singapore's great architectural works, the bridge does not lose an iota of its charm at night-time – in fact quite the opposite.
At the appointed hour the structure is illuminated by a multitude of LED lights that, if possible, emphasise its uniqueness even more.
As a curiosity, take a closer look and the letters that are lit up in red and green. You will see two pairs of letters, 'c' and 'g' and 'a' and 't'... Have you worked out why these letters are illuminated? I can only tell you they are not the initials of the architects. Ok, I'll give you a clue... It is related to DNA. Now do you see? Congratulations! Haven't got it yet? Ok, I'll tell you... They represent the initials of the four DNA bases: cytosine, guanine, adenine and thymine.
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