The Judges commented, "a key component in the regeneration of Gateshead, this compelling civic project is a heady mix of architecture and engineering."
The Gateshead Millennium Bridge is a unique crossing for pedestrians and cyclists has become a new landmark for Gateshead and the Tyne, a river famous for its historic bridges. The bridge links Newcastle's thriving north bank with Gateshead Quays – the new arts and cultural quarter to the south. It is essentially two graceful curves, one forming the deck and the other supporting it, spanning between two new islands running parallel to the quaysides.
These pivot around their common springing points to allow shipping to pass beneath, using an innovative rotational movement similar to that of a slowly opening eyelid. The parabolic curves of the deck extend the 105m crossing distance to around 120m, giving enough extra length to provide the required clearance above the water. Visually elegant when static and in motion, the bridge offers a great spectacle during its opening operation –both during the day and by night.
The Gateshead Millennium Bridge tilts over 500 times a year allowing access upriver for Royal Navy and private vessels looking to dock at the Newcastle City Marina and leisure craft. The bridge has been operational for over twenty years. Mechanically the bridge still has all its original major components, with the rams and pumps continuing to tilt the bridge.
The awards represent a cultural shift away from celebrating newness and towards a focus on longevity. In stark contrast to most awards programmes, the Architecture Today Awards has only considered projects that have been in use for at least three years and which can demonstrate a strong track record for delivering on their environmental, functional, community and cultural ambitions.