Gateshead Millennium Bridge

Gateshead and Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom


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

Finalist, Best Lighting Scheme, FX Design Awards, 2001

Architecture + Environment

The world’s first tipping bridge has played a seminal role in the regeneration of Gateshead, and indeed the entire North East.

We reflected the precision found in the structure of the bridge in our highly refined approach to lighting the structure, the pedestrian space and the mirrored surface of the River Tyne below. This has created a powerful and iconic night-time image that is now recognisable across the world as a symbol of the city.

The surface of the arch is cross lit with simple elegant white light, although we also included the option of changing coloured light for special events. The underside of the bridge deck is lit with narrow beam sources directed along the structural ribs and the belly of the pedestrian deck, maximising potential reflections in the river surface.

To provide the required sense of comfort and safety, while also making it possible to enjoy an unimpeded the view of the two cities framed by the arch, we lit the pedestrian walkway and cycle deck indirectly from within the hedge that separates the two. White light recessed into the deck helps to delineate the cycle route and catches 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. Signalling the opening of the 126-metre span, a series of narrow-beam metal halide spots highlight these rams, and the gradual build up of light adds to the drama of the event.

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