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Sheikh Zayed Bridge - Sustainable Design
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Sheikh Zayed Bridge - Sustainable Design

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The Sheikh Zayed Bridge, which was constructed by The Municipality of Abu Dhabi City, has recently won the Global Road Achievement Award in the Design Category, accorded by the UN-recognized the International Roads Federation's.

The 2011 Global Road Achievement Awards program is a worldwide contest held to identify and honor excellence, innovation, and exceptional achievements in 12 key categories in the transport and infrastructure industry.

Engineer Abdullah Al Shamsi, Acting Executive Director of Roads, Municipal Infrastructure and Assets Sector at the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City, said: "The Municipality of Abu Dhabi City is proud of being an active member among the local entities operating in accordance with the wise vision of the Abu Dhabi Emirate.

"The Municipality is proud of bagging this coveted Award, as it the entity which has undertaken the construction of this vital, giant project featuring a distinctive shape not only in terms of the unique architectural design, but also the unique construction and engineering patterns compatible with the requisite international standards & specifications, rendering the Sheikh Zayed Bridge a world's lively, engineering and architectural landmark and a modern model of beauty and innovation," he commented.

Commenting on the Award, Al Shamsi explained, "Winning the Global Road Achievement Award 2011 by the Sheikh Zayed Bridge is a further endorsement of Abu Dhabi's excellence at the global level manifested in undertaking such massive innovative projects. Moreover, it clearly indicates that the objective of excellence pursued by Abu Dhabi's prudent government has become a reality epitomized in hundreds of urban, development and infrastructural projects boasting distinctively intriguing details. Bagging this Award in the Design Category reflects the respect paid by the specialized international organizations to the excellent achievements made by Abu Dhabi as represented in a broad spectrums of designs, which replicate originality in the decorative design as well as addressing the safety in the engineering and technical aspects." "Winning the GRAA for Design by the Sheikh Zayed Bridge has been achieved thanks to the fulfillment of a host of standards most important of which are the degree of complexity, ability to innovate, cost and efficiency considerations, efficiency, technical value added to road development industry, contributions to addressing social & economic concerns, success in using the existing technologies, innovation in applying new technologies, introduction of new technologies, products or equipment, and the degree to which the project, meets the needs of the public," added Al Shamsi.

"The completion of the Sheikh Zayed Bridge Project on November 25, 2010 represented the realization of a vision created for the Founding Father of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, serving as a stunning gateway to the world's richest city. The project epitomizes excellence in design creativity, innovation and sustainability. It is a deserving recipient of this award, in recognition of the tremendous work of the talented and dedicated individuals who conceived and delivered the world's most complex bridge," he further added.

Commenting on the designs that qualified the Sheikh Zayed Bridge to win this global Award, Al Shamsi said, "The selection of the project's design reflected the directives of the Government of Abu Dhabi to make the Sheikh Zayed Bridge one of the City's spectacular landmarks and consequently, in 1997, the world-renowned British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid was appointed to develop a special aesthetic concept.

Inspired by the asymmetric arch shapes of desert sand dunes, Zaha Hadid created a scheme for a stunning, triple-arched bridge featuring a fusion of bridge forms that incorporated a box girder deck supported on, and suspended off, fluid continuous arches. Close collaboration between architect and designer to develop the 'dune' concept was essential to ensure its structural feasibility and buildability.

The architectural concept posed three major design challenges, namely: Firstly, the deck was required to form a continuous, seamless ribbon throughout its length, so that it appears to float over the Maqta channel.

Secondly, the two decks were to be separated with minimal visual obstruction, resulting in an open appearance to the outside edge of the deck structure. This creates a striking feature, which is enhanced by a stunning, computer-controlled lighting scheme.

Thirdly, the arches and piers needed to form a continuous flowing line, with curves in three dimensions emerging from the ground at each end of the bridge, and moving from between the twin decks at the mainland end to outside the decks as the bridge approaches the island side.

The remarkable result is a bridge structure with clean and uninterrupted lines that is unique in its range of forms." "An innovative choice of engineering techniques and materials were applied to ensure the long-term durability and sustainability of the structure. They provide protection against the extremely harsh conditions encountered in Abu Dhabi, such as the marine environment, high temperatures and humidity, and seismic activity," he explained.

Al Shamsi pointed out that the distinguished Sheikh Zayed Bridge Project necessitated several criteria represented in finding exceptional solutions for unique challenges, creating complex forms of iron, steel, concrete, and setting up a comprehensive design a in all grades, taking into account the impacts of time factor, affecting the interior or exterior of the bridge, therefore, large-scale precautions are taken to ensure its permanence and endurability of extreme environmental conditions.

"The Sheikh Zayed Bridge is the third crossing over the Maqta Channel, connecting Abu Dhabi Island to the mainland. It links directly with the new Salam Street Expressway, a vital artery of the city's highway system, easing traffic to and from the capital and relieving congestion on the other two channel crossings. The bridge is also a significant business enabler, linking the island with major mainland developments, which witnesses an increasingly development process due to the population growth seen by the city.

"The Municipality of Abu Dhabi City is delighted by the realization of the vision, which perfectly matches the 3D computer realizations of its preferred solution. Importantly, the adopted bridge solution has had no adverse effects on water flows in the surrounding area, and is designed, engineered and constructed in an eco-friendly way that makes it compatible with the requirements of the channel and marine traffic.

"The construction of the Sheikh Zayed Bridge is fully compatible with the vision of the prudent Government of Abu Dhabi as regards sustainability applications. Abu Dhabi is a modern city shaped by an ancient culture. Its strategic policies are grounded by three basic elements of sustainability - the natural environment, economic development and cultural heritage. The Sheikh Zayed Bridge embraces all three of these elements.

It represents local sand dunes, and blends into Abu Dhabi's natural environment. It will contribute to Abu Dhabi's economic prosperity whilst maintaining a visual link between the city and the surrounding landscape - a strong form that incorporates historical, architectural shapes that are unique to Arab society.

"The Municipality of Abu Dhabi City will receive the global Award in the annual banquet of the Awards Ceremony on the 24 January 2012 in Washington DC, besides publicizing this achievement in the World Highways Magazine, outlining a summary of the project in the IRF 2011 GRAA Book of Winning Projects, thus raising high the name of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, as well as strengthening the status of the emirate at global levels, be it general or specialized professional levels," elaborated Al Shamsi.

At the same level, Al Shamsi affirmed that in the context of the State's 40th UAE National Day celebrations and the plan set by the Celebrations Committee, the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City decorated the Sheikh Zayed Bridge with a dazzling lighting system echoing the Spirit of the Union, where color lights were deployed at all corners of the Bridge turning it into a masterpiece reflecting both the country's rejoice with this precious occasion, the bright image of the giant modern achievements made by the State of the Union.

"The architectural lighting of the Sheikh Zayed Bridge has also been programmed by using light effects especially designed for the 40th UAE National Day anniversary. The interactive-color lighting surrounding the borders of amazing structure flow every evening through the arches to depict combinations of color, forming the UAE's flag, while the light cells below the surface and along the sides of the bridge send flashes of light moving at speed 100 kilometers per hour, reflecting its lights on the surface of Maqta Channel.

This festive lighting creates a very picturesque scene of natural colors enjoyed by both users of the bridge and remote viewers. Moreover, hundreds of special spotlights have been installed to form a distinctive feature of the Bridge, which would depict extra multi transparent lights configurations.

"The Sheikh Zayed Bridge itself is a masterpiece of architecture of extreme beauty and unique design. It was one of the mega projects that the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City was privileged to accomplish. The Bridge itself has gained more privilege and prestige for being associated with the name of the late Sheikh Zayed, the founder of the UAE. Therefore, we meant to showcase this imposing edifice by framing it with a range of dazzling and shimmering light configurations to yet create extra atmospheres of joy and fascination to the features and details of the Bridge," said Al Shamsi in a final remark.

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