The Mary Elmes pedestrian and cycle bridge linking Merchants Quay and St Patrick’s Bridge, is a popular crossing over the River Lee in central Cork. The bridge was designed by WilkinsonEyre with Arup Consulting Engineers after winning an international design competition. The bridge has become a vital piece of infrastructure enhancing pedestrian and cycle connectivity between Kent Station, MacCurtain Street and the City.
The new crossing is a sympathetic companion to the surrounding quays, buildings and urban realm. Its understated design maintains views along the river to the harbour, Shandon and the northern suburbs, and gives the River Lee the elegant crossing that it deserves.
Located on axis with Harley Street, the design of the bridge eschews unnecessary structural gymnastics, opting instead for a low lying, arched steel box girder; the soffit of which is shaped with a gentle semi-elliptical form across the water. The uninterrupted single span results in a clear body of water over which the bridge hovers. On a calm day, the waters of the river reflect the bridge and complete the elliptical form.
The primary arched box girder of the bridge is fabricated from high-grade steel plate and coated with a protective paint treatment in an off-white colour. This provides a finish which is extremely durable and suitable for the marine environment. At midspan, a tactile timber bench is neatly framed with stainless steel edges and supported on brackets that extend from the central structural spine, encouraging users to pause and take in stunning views of the river and the surrounding city.