CBS attends “Designing Bridges: 2020” conferences
Last January, CAD & BIM SERVICES attended the conference on “The Design of Bridges 2020” organized by the Association of Civil Engineers.
In the first session of the new cycle ‘The design in bridges: 2020’, promoted by the Technical Committee of Cities, Territory and Culture of the College of Civil Engineers. The conference was attended by Juan A.
Santamera, president of the Association of Civil Engineers, and José Romo, director of the cycle, accompanied by Arcadio Gil, president of the Committee of Cities, Territory and Culture of the Association of Civil Engineers.
Juan A. Santamera explained that bridge design has always been one of the strengths of Spanish civil engineers.
“However, the environment in which the design process of these works is carried out has changed radically in recent years.
On the one hand, project methods and tools are subject to a process of continuous transformation that has a significant impact on engineering work, and on the other hand, the conditions imposed by clients and society’s own expectations imply a different way of projecting than the traditional one”, explained the president.
In this way, the work of engineers is carried out in an increasingly complex environment that requires a more participative and open way of working, forming part of multidisciplinary teams with professionals from different disciplines that contribute new visions, without forgetting the technology that is applied and the climate change.
“This situation obviously influences the design of bridges and therefore, it is very important to share methods and experiences that allow strengthening the preponderant position of engineering as a reference, not only in the technical aspects, but also in the creative and formal expression of bridges”, concluded Juan A. Santamera.
José Romo, for his part, focused on the importance of design in public works: “We are facing complicated challenges and design is one of the strengths of engineering.
As bridge or structure designers we make constant decisions”.
As director of the cycle, he explained that the objectives of the cycle are to highlight the importance of the formal and the landscape in public works, as well as to encourage discussion on design, emphasising the creative part. He added that “these discussions on design must serve to raise the general level”.
On this occasion, on the first day of this cycle, Juan Luis Bellod, Jorge Bernabéu, Guillermo Capellán and Álvaro Serrano participated, all of them moderated by Ignacio Payá.
Juan Luis Bellod focused his intervention on two works carried out by his company: the footbridge over the M-30 at the La Paloma junction and the Pachitea bridge in Peru: in the first case, the structure is adapted to the urban environment in which it is built; in the second, the structure itself is redefined over time.
“The design of a bridge is an adaptive process in which there is no single valid solution. A bridge must be adapted and integrated into the environment,” he said.
He added that the design and approach must respond to more than just structural constraints.
And he recalled the function of the bridge as a social tool for the development of communications and transport.
Jorge Bernabéu referred to the concept of creative engineering: “Designing bridges is a creative task.
The shape of bridges is not only the result of calculation and it is not only an idea, a line. Designing bridges follows a project method, some more or less established steps that all of us designers follow, each one with its own particularities.
In short, we are creative engineers. And he added that this method involves three essential ideas: place (the importance of the site, since it will be what defines the problem), type (relationship with the history and heritage of the built) and drawing (designing bridges has a lot of drawing, which is as important or more important than the calculation).
He also showed two examples of two bridges in Riyadh, made by Idom, to give a good account of the relationship between form and structure and between structure and ornament.
Guillermo Capellán agreed with Bernabéu in emphasizing the importance and necessity of drawing in the construction process.
He also referred to the richness of multidisciplinary teams.
“Creativity is a piece that has to fit into the whole process to find solutions to the problems that arise,” he said.
Thus, he listed the tools that the designer has for creativity: the resistance of materials; the constructive process or the drawing (from conceptual design schemes to digital models). “We must try to participate in the executive process in order to anticipate problems of utility, matter, technique and economy by solving them a priori in the process of ideation,” he added.
Finally, Álvaro Serrano affirmed that bridge design is not exclusively calculation: “As Eduardo Torroja pointed out, it is not only science and technique, it is also art, common sense, hobby, aptitude and delight.
Art is linked to beauty and the ability to move, while technique is the way to do something skilfully or efficiently.
Therefore, it is necessary to seek a balance between technique and aesthetics”.
Thus, he reviewed the principles of project methodology: the link between nature and the environment; the essential search for functionality; consideration of dimension; the interweaving of design with the construction process, practically dominating design; the contribution of history and tradition in the designs that are made; adjustment to the strict, understood as the necessary, the useful, the indispensable; and attention to detail.
In the second session of the cycle ‘The design in bridges: 2020’, promoted by the Technical Committee of Cities, Territory and Culture of the College of Civil Engineers.
The conference was attended by Juan A. Santamera, president of the Association of Civil Engineers, and José Romo, director of the cycle, accompanied by Arcadio Gil, president of the Committee of Cities, Territory and Culture of the Association of Civil Engineers.
Juan A. Santamera explained that bridge design has always been one of the strengths of Spanish civil engineers.
“Nowadays, the work of engineers is carried out in an increasingly complex environment that requires a more participative way of working, being part of multidisciplinary teams.
“This situation obviously influences the design of bridges and therefore, it is very important to share methods and experiences that allow to strengthen the preponderant position of engineering as a reference, not only in the technical aspects, but also in the creative and formal expression of the bridges”, concluded the president.
José Romo, for his part, he stated that, with this cycle, “we intend to show the work of the designers, as well as to highlight the importance of the formal and visual in the work of bridges and to understand design as a reflexive act due to the impact of our decisions on the heritage we are going to build”.
He reviewed the milestones of the first session and concluded that “it was an example of the versatility of the formal language of bridge engineering, as well as of the context as an element that delimits, conditions and, at the same time, strengthens the solutions as a way of innovating”.
On this occasion, on the first day of this cycle, Raúl Escrivá, Mario Guisasola, Luis Matute and Manel Reventós participated, moderated by Carlos Nárdiz.
Design, associated with art in contact with daily life, also has its expression in engineering such as bridges, which, although they are not mass-produced like the objects resulting from industrial design, admit to being ennobled by the intentions of the designers, when to the structural, constructive, economic and social conditioning factors is added the desire to intervene on the form from the intrinsic characteristics of the bridge itself.
The designers who formed part of this second day of Design in Bridges: 2020 are all civil engineers who have demonstrated, throughout their professional trajectory, this desire for road, railway and pedestrian bridges, in which there is greater freedom, with the search for form, with the minimum use of superfluous elements and respect for the existing place and landscape, relating to the depths of the profession.
Carlos Nárdiz He said that “the word design should not scare us civil engineers, it has to do with the search for form, for visual appearance.
In this way, we have to understand design as an element to ennoble artisan work”.
He referred to the debate between engineering and culture, as well as to the quality of the projects in terms of materials, textures, finishes, proportions, relationship with the landscape, environment, dialogue with the bridges…
To conclude, he posed several questions to the speakers: “Are we engineers aware that works are lived? Do we have the right training to approach visual languages? Is the profession giving an adequate answer?
Raúl Escrivá During his speech, he showed the process of designing the footbridge to the Oscar Niemeyer International Centre – known as ‘the staple’ – “To create a bridge, you have to observe the place trying to perceive its character”, he said. “Projecting is a process of successive approaches arising from the dialogue between thought and imagination until the truth is discovered.
To walk along several paths for critical comparison. In projecting, one follows the steps of function, form and material”. Thus, he explained how they conceived the access footbridge, achieving a promenade and two points from which to observe the centre and the city.
“The design work does not end until the work is finished, it is not limited only to the competition period”, he said.
Mario Guisasola he toured the main ones he has developed during his professional career – Goiko Errota Bridge, in Elgoíbar; Santuario del Carmen Footbridge, in Calahorra, Martutene Bridge and Footbridge or Mikel Laboa Footbridge, both in San Sebastián.
He reviewed the principles of design: resistance, functionality and beauty, according to Vitruvio; innovative, useful, aesthetic, understandable, honest, discreet, timeless, precise in the details, respectful with the environment, minimum expression… according to Dieter Rams; or efficiency, economy and elegance, according to Billington.
“But the reality is that they are subjective, some concepts that are used to commit trophies,” he said. According to his words, “the design goes through geometry of the terrain, structural behavior and robust details, the search for simplicity… it is a complex process but the result should not be.
He also mentioned serial design: the bridge is a large object, but an object with complex boundary conditions and defined functionality.
And although some places are unique, others are not. Prototypes designed in series can give new life to environments that are treated in a very banal way”.
Finally, he used two case studies – Mikel Leboa bridge and Martutene footbridge – to explain his work methodology: collecting data, evaluating the project requirements, analysing the terrain, looking for the solution, parameterising the geometry…
Luis Matute explained that the design of a bridge is an evolving process: “We are talking about a formal exercise, a structural work, graphic design, a functional solution, a constructive problem, an economic purpose Nowadays, “we must value and recycle all the structural heritage we have.
Experience and structural knowledge are basic,” he said. Regarding the evolution of bridge design, he reviewed the variables of technical evolution: materials, construction systems, regulations, software and design – sketch and Revit or similar models with great realism, details, interaction between graphic and calculation models, parametric design -, construction elements; as well as the evolution of needs: accelerated development in the 21st century, fast productivity and effectiveness, but sustainability.
He showed the project for the viaduct over the river Ulla and explained the conditioning factors of its design: a singular proposal that combined aesthetics and integration into the landscape; reduction of the number of piles in the riverbed, minimising the impact on the banks; a construction process that is as independent as possible from the riverbed; as well as visual transparency and minimum impact on the landscape.
He also presented the case of the rehabilitation of structures – on the Adra and Cinca rivers – “The intention is to respect original solutions while restoring their structural capacity”, he said.
Manel Reventós referred to creativity and art as two concepts linked to bridge design and appealed to the “honesty” of the designer in organizing the elements of structural language for “a reasonable composition”.
He agreed with his colleagues on the need to carry out an analysis of the place, “nature, environment, territory, landscape, where I organize the language”.
The next step is “the structural composition: place, images that I associate with the place, geometry, elevation plan, ideas, alternatives and, in addition, it would come into play “the fantasy, the shaping of drawings, calculation, development of sketches, shaping into virtual images, simple models, geometries that can be more precise”.
In all this, there is a key concept: “the coherence of the project. And although there are basic rules of composition, all things being equal, the simplest one is the good one”, he said”.
Reventós made an exhibition of the different bridge designs in which his studio has participated and explained the germ of these designs, by means of drawings.
Among the designs, he highlighted the “cover of the Picornell swimming pools, based on the gantry cranes of Navantia, in Cádiz, which have more than 100 metres of span and the competition for a footbridge for the San Juan de Dios Hospital in León, based on the ‘Praise of the Horizon’ by Chillida”.
His speech focused more extensively on the Ca N’Alemany-Viladecans Footbridge, which was resolved with “piles inspired by the croquet forks on which a snake was placed.
Hence, the story I invented to justify the fact that a snake was on top of some croquet forks and which is entitled ‘The Jasmine Snake’.
Finally, he referred to the rehabilitation of the Gelsa Bridge (Zaragoza), a bridge from 1930 that lasted 7 years and that during the following decade was put on its feet.
“Projects like this show us that sometimes we do not have to be creative, but we have to adapt to what already exists,” he concluded.
In the third session of the cycle ‘The design in bridges: 2020’, promoted by the Technical Committee of Cities, Territory and Culture of the Association of Civil Engineers.
The conference was attended by Ignacio Ortiz, member of the Committee of Cities, Territory and Culture of the Association of Civil Engineers, and José Romo, director of the cycle.
Ignacio Ortiz he recalled that with this cycle “we are highlighting the importance of the formal and the landscape in public works, as well as the discussion on design, emphasizing the creative part”.
He also stressed that “the engineer who designs bridges works with a conceptual language based on the laws that emanate from the resistance of materials and geometry. Based on them, the technique of bridges has created over time some canonical solutions that constitute the synthesis of the knowledge acquired throughout history”.
“We, the Civil Engineers, have a mandate from society to carry out the construction and design of bridges. However, the environment in which this happens has been changing in recent years, which leads us to adapt to a new situation, increasingly complex that requires a more participatory way of working with the formation of multidisciplinary teams with professionals from different disciplines that provide new visions, without forgetting the technology applied and climate change,” he concluded.
José Romo, For his part, he highlighted the figure of the designer, since it is he who “will have to select the solution that, in his opinion, best responds to the context, which is therefore a space of creation that delimits and conditions, but at the same time, strengthens the solution and its formalisation.
The designers present on this third day are an example of the beneficial use of context, and of a way of understanding the praxis of the project as an exercise in rationality in which the intention is to remove everything superfluous from the design”.
On this occasion, the third day of this cycle featured the participation of Héctor Beade, Xavier Font, Ramón Sánchez and José Simón, moderated by Pilar Crespo from the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and the Urban Agenda.Pilar Crespo pointed out the objective of the cycle: to emphasize the formal and visual within the activity of the bridge design engineer.
“Design is an essential part of the work of these designers, but it is framed within a broader concept: the project. Unlike what happens with the design of other objects, the design of a bridge has, due to its dimensions and its permanence, implications of a technological, constructive, resistant, economic functional safety and also, of course, of a social nature”.
He presented the speakers, “whose work is truly magnificent, with exquisite care in the formal conception of their bridges and footbridges, as well as in the resolution of the details”.
Héctor Beade He stated that “design defines human beings, it distinguishes us from other species”.
He defined the designer as a technologist who proposes objects that will last in time and that, in addition, will be used by many people.
In the case of the bridge, “much more than an infrastructure”.
At present, “we are living through a change of paradigm, there are few technical limitations and we can do things that we would not even have imagined before”.
Thus, a well designed bridge must be functional, structurally coherent, aesthetically pleasing, durable and sustainable, appropriate to the environment and the problem to be solved in terms of scale and appearance, as well as respectful of the culture and history of the place.
“It must respond to specific conditions and the political and social context, be carefully detailed and be constructable in a way that is compatible with the economic context,” he said. And he added: “It is our responsibility to respond to these aspects simultaneously, in a satisfactory manner”. He gave two examples: the St. Philips footbridge in Bristol, UK, where drawing was seen as a design tool, and the new bridge at Pooly Bridge, also in the UK, which was designed in dialogue with the community.
Xavier Font, For his part, he said that “our job is to design bridges, whose power to transform the territory is enormous.
This is a challenge since we have to act on the territory and improve it”.
And he stressed that the citizen is at the centre and is the one who, in the end, will be able to develop in that territory.
In this way, he explained the details of the Callús footbridge project in Barcelona: it was fundamental to analyse the site, to integrate the footbridge into the environment, to work on the details with great care.
“The care of details is fundamental in the footbridges because they are touched by the user,” he said. The conception of the project was marked by the demand for connectivity that the place demanded; the geometry and the use of steel were the chosen solutions; a hierarchy of the space was carried out with formal elements of the footbridge.
To conclude, he stated that there is still much to be done but that “specific interventions in specific sites, if done carefully, can generate improvement dynamics”.
Ramón Sánchez de León mentioned collaboration with architects and large urban projects, in which design is more restricted to the environment in which they are included.
This is how he showed the cable-stayed bridge in Talavera de la Reina and referred to the construction process: “When faced with the design of a project, the designer has to think about how he is going to build it, to think about the construction process at all times”.
Likewise, he exposed the Arriaca Bridge in Guadalajara, “an urban landmark”, and assured that the structural conception is totally compatible with the formal design”.
Through the Badajoz bridge over the Guadiana River, he underlined the importance of adapting the design to the total integration of these infrastructures into the environment for which they were conceived.
“We have to put care not only in the new bridges but in all the actions that are made on the already built ones”, he concluded.
Finally, José Simón Talero pointed out that the design of a project is “a rational process, but that does not mean that creativity is annulled”.
We must be clear about the technical and functional conditions, and what use the bridge is going to have: “We must know the problem that is going to be solved and break it down”.
And he underlined: “The path towards the definitive solution implies a lot of work and common engineering sense, as well as teamwork”.
Thus, he shared the projects of the crossing over the Danube River in Bratislava -with 420 m of span and located in a protected space-, ‘The peaceful wave’, in Tseung Kwan (Hong Kong) -combining forms, formal and structural sense-; the bridge over the Ota-Gawa River (Hiroshima) -with a novel structural scheme-; and, finally, the ‘Petrified River’ project – “an exercise of deconstruction of the project” with the application of novel methods-. In short, “the rational process is compatible with creativity and the use of new media”.
He quoted Eduardo Torroja’s phrase: “Above the calculation there is the idea, moulding the material in a resistant way to fulfil its function”.
And he concluded: “The idea that we have is what moves us, is what gives meaning to everything and makes calculations respond to the truth. That’s why we have to be congruent with the idea and let it guide us through the whole process”.
Our experience in these days has been very instructive, and we are sure that in successive days we will be present.
Article translated with DeppL