Gateshead Millennium Bridge

Gateshead and Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom

Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council


Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Structural Engineer
Gifford and Partners

Graham Peacock


Award of Distinction, IIDA Awards, 2002

Outdoor Design Trophy, Scottish Design Awards, 2002

Lighting Project of the Year, The Building Services Awards, 2002

Exterior Lighting, European Lighting Design Award, 2002

Best Exterior, LIF Lighting Design Awards, 2002

Award of Excellence, IALD Awards, 2002

Architecture + Environment

The world’s first tipping bridge, which tilts to allow river traffic to pass underneath, has played a major role in the redevelopment of Gateshead and become a symbol of regeneration for the North-East both by day and by night.

About the lighting
A skillful and precise lighting scheme enhances the sheer elegance of its engineering and fully exploits the mirror surface of the River Tyne to create a powerful and iconic night-time image. Writing in The Times, Architecture Correspondent Marcus Binney wrote:

"All these bridges are thrillingly lit at night but none more ravishingly than the arch of the Millennium Bridge, which glows in ever-changing shades of radiant silk."

We planned the lighting to reinforce the shape, structure and movement of the bridge, with all equipment fully integrated into the architectural form. The surface of the arch is crosslit with both white and changing coloured light, used for special events.

On the underside of the bridge deck, narrow beam sources light the structural ribs and the belly of the pedestrian deck, maximising the potential of the reflections in the river surface. The pedestrian walkway and cycle path are lit by creating a glow within the central barrier that divides the two. As well as providing a sense of comfort and safety, this offers an opportunity to sit on the benches and admire the view of the two cities framed by the arch. White LED fittings recessed into the deck delineate the cycle route and catch the surface of the vertical balustrades and horizontal steel wires. The two caissons with their massive hydraulic rams are lit with blue light which glows through the glass lens of the floor deck revealing the machinery below.

To signal the opening of the 126-metre span, a series of narrow-beam metal halide spots highlight the rams, the gradual build up of light adding to the drama of the event.