The exhibition, Bridge Engineering, celebrates the civil engineers who have created some of the world’s greatest bridges and opens its doors today at the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) in Westminster for a six month period.
World-renowned bridge engineer and ICE Gold Medallist Dr Robin Sham, of infrastructure services firm AECOM, designed the LEGO bridge installation. The exhibit demonstrates the complex challenge of creating such a vast suspension bridge using only the materials that you would find in a child’s LEGO toy box. The bridge stands over three metres tall and spans more than 30 metres – almost the equivalent of three London Routemaster buses parked end on end, weighs three-quarters of a ton and is made up of over 200,000 individual plastic bricks.
Dr Robin Sham, Global Long Span and Specialty Bridges Director at AECOM, said: “Bridges connect people and places, both physically and emotionally. The ICE’s visionary LEGO Bridge project connects civil engineers with the public, demonstrating the monumental accomplishments of civil engineering. Using familiar LEGO bricks to demystify and showcase the extraordinary feats of engineers, I hope the next generation will be inspired to consider engineering as a career.”
Claire Gott MBE of global consultancy WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, whose bridge engineers oversaw the construction of the LEGO bridge commented: “The construction was a fantastic opportunity to see civil engineering in action while using a material we all know and love.
“Bridges are normally built out of things like steel and concrete – engineers know nearly everything there is about those types of materials, and can predict their physical behaviours. As a construction material, we didn’t know much about the material properties of LEGO, so it was really exciting to see actual bridge engineers finding solutions to ensure this vast model suspension bridge remained upright.”
Bridge Engineering explains how bridges have transformed lives and gives an insight into the creative minds of the civil engineers who designed and delivered them. Made possible with the support of leading UK engineering and construction companies, Bridge Engineering tells the human, social and engineering story of bridge building and demonstrates the value that infrastructure delivers to communities around the world.
The exhibition guides visitors on a tour of past great structures such as Thomas Telford’s classic Menai Strait suspension bridge, modern masterpieces including the 50 year old Severn Bridge, and transformational structures of the future such as Scotland’s famous Queensferry Crossing. Bridge Engineering’s dedicated interactive zone allows visitors and children to become civil engineers for the day by constructing their own bridges.
Bridge Engineering marks the start of a five-year programme of infrastructure-focussed exhibitions at ICE’s One Great George Street home in Westminster, London. The brand new industry-backed gallery in the Grade II listed library, christened the “Infrastructure Learning Hub”, is an interactive public space where the construction and engineering industry can tell engaging stories about how their work makes a positive difference to people’s lives. The programme aims to wrap science and engineering together in a fun, informative way and to inspire the next generation of Brunels.
ICE President Sir John Armitt commented that civil engineers must continue making the case for infrastructure to the public: “This time last year, I called on our profession – civil engineers – to get better at talking about our creations. From bridges to roads, rail networks, to flood defences and clean running water facilities; we all use and benefit from infrastructure every day, consciously or not.
“We all share our infrastructure equally so it is vital that we the planners, designers, builders and operators demonstrate its invaluable contribution to civic life. Set in the international tourism spot of Parliament Square in Westminster, this exhibition space provides the built environment industry with the perfect stage to speak to the public – where we can tell the inspirational story of how infrastructure transforms people’s lives. Most important of all, it is a place for the public to explore the wonders of the built world around us.”
Notes to editors
Photos and media contact: Please contact Matthew Oliver, ICE Media Relations Executive, for photos and additional information on firstname.lastname@example.org, 0207 665 2107
Dates: Opening October 17th at The Institution of Civil Engineers, One Great George Street, Westminster, London, SW1P 3AA, Bridge Engineering will run Mondays to Fridays, 10am to 5pm until Spring 2017.
Guinness World Record details: ICE broke the world record for the longest single bridge span created out of LEGO bricks, unaided by glue or structural supports. The previous record was a single span of 14 metres – ICE achieved a new record with a single span of 16.46 metres. The two connected side spans either end of the main give the bridge a total span of 31 metres.
Bridge Engineering: Supported by Flint & Neill (a COWI company), CEMAR and Tony Gee and Partners LLP, this is the first exhibition to christen the newly refurbished exhibition space, the Infrastructure Learning Hub.
For more information about seeing the exhibition, and booking large parties visit:
The Infrastructure Learning Hub: The creation of the Infrastructure Learning Hub has been supported by 11 Founding Partners: AECOM, Atkins, Carillion, Costain, John Laing, Kier, Mace Foundation, Mott MacDonald, VINCI Construction UK Ltd, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, and Ramboll.