ICE’s Infrastructure Learning Hub opens with world record breaking LEGO bridge

The new Hub is home to a brand new Bridge Engineering exhibition, celebrating the civil engineers who have created some of the world’s greatest bridges

The centrepiece of the Bridge Engineering exhibition, is a LEGO bridge standing at over three metres tall and spanning more than 30 metres.
The centrepiece of the Bridge Engineering exhibition, is a LEGO bridge standing at over three metres tall and spanning more than 30 metres.
The exhibition guides visitors on a tour of past great structures
The exhibition guides visitors on a tour of past great structures

Sitting at the heart of the newly refurbished Grade II listed library, the Hub is an interactive public space where the built environment industry can tell engaging stories about how their work makes a positive difference to society. The five year series of exhibitions which are planned will combine science and engineering together in a fun, informative way and to inspire the next generation of Brunels.

The centrepiece of the Bridge Engineering exhibition, is a LEGO bridge standing at over three metres tall and spanning more than 30 metres – almost the equivalent of three London Routemaster buses parked end on end. The bridge is made up of over 200,000 individual plastic bricks, and weighs three-quarters of a ton.

World-renowned bridge engineer and ICE Gold Medallist Dr Robin Sham, of infrastructure services firm AECOM, designed the LEGO bridge installation and oversaw 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.

Dr 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, Design Manager at 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."

The exhibition, which has been sponsored by CEMAR, Tony Gee and Partners LLP and Flint & Neill 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-focused exhibitions at ICE's One Great George Street HQ.

AECOM, Atkins, Carillion, Costain, John Laing Kier, Mace Foundation, Mott MacDonald, Ramboll, VINCI Construction UK Limited and WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff have become the first 'Founding Partners' of the exhibition and learning centre. Together they have pledged over £300,000, and ICE has promised to match industry donations to the £850,000 project. ICE is now renewing its call to the rest of industry to follow suit and to join as Partners to help raise the remaining funds needed to bring the vision to life.

For sponsorship inquiries please contact Jeanette Grose at: jeanette.grose@ice.org.uk.

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