Engineering Awards… Hungarian Style

Barry Tuckwood of the BIM Action Group recounts his experience of presenting the Tierney Clark Award in Hungary this January

The Chain Bridge, Budapest. The award is named for the bridge’s English designer, William Tierney Clark.
The Chain Bridge, Budapest. The award is named for the bridge’s English designer, William Tierney Clark.

The Tierney Clark Award is made jointly by The Hungarian Chamber of Engineers and ICE. I readily agreed to attend as ICE's representative on the judging panel, partly because of my long connection with Hungary through my wife. Judging would be interesting in itself; visiting Hungary for professional rather than social reasons would be a bonus.

William Tierney Clark – English civil engineer

The award is named after William Tierney Clark (1783-1852), the designer of the Chain Bridge, the first bridge to span the Danube in Budapest.

Tierney Clark's career developed under the guidance of Thomas Telford and John Rennie, and having moved to London he designed the original Hammersmith Bridge. Opened in 1827, it was the first suspension bridge over the Thames.

Tierney Clark later designed Marlow Bridge, a suspension design which was scaled up for the first Danube crossing, linking Buda and Pest. With construction supervised by an unrelated Scottish Engineer, Adam Clark, the Chain Bridge opened in 1849.

Judging the award

Judging was based on material submitted, in Hungarian and English, by four entrants. Through a Skype discussion with Gábor Szőllőssy (Chief Adviser to the President of the Hungarian Chamber of Engineers), and the other judges, the entries were assessed and a winner agreed. The award was presented as part of the Hungarian Chamber of Engineers' 20th Anniversary Ball, about which more later.

The four projects entered were a tram line, a bridge, a water treatment works and an aviary. We considered complexity, cost, engineering, innovation, and a range of other aspects, including benefit to the public. This was more difficult to assess and required online research without being able to visit the sites themselves. All four papers would make interesting case studies for publication in the UK, with learning points for engineers worldwide.

Project 1: The 3.2km Extension of Budapest Tram Line No 1

This project includes the section over the Rákóczi Bridge, the most recently built Danube crossing. Although built 20 years ago to accommodate trams alongside road traffic, subsequent developments have required changes to tracks and fixings, and extended platforms for longer trams. Based on a common design, the platforms are one of the project's key innovations.

Tram No1 on the Rákóczi BridgeThe project is without doubt a beneficial addition to Budapest's tram system, part of the extensive public transport network  (acknowledgement: Uvaterv)
Tram No1 on the Rákóczi BridgeThe project is without doubt a beneficial addition to Budapest's tram system, part of the extensive public transport network (acknowledgement: Uvaterv)
Completed grass surface on Tram Line No1  (acknowledgement: Uvaterv)
Completed grass surface on Tram Line No1 (acknowledgement: Uvaterv)
 

Project 2: Margaret Bridge reconstruction

Originally built in 1876, the Margit Hid (Margaret Bridge) has six arches and a total length of 642m, and a significant bend at the half way point where there is also a short link bridge to Margaret Island. The reconstruction design required suitable access for the disabled, pedestrians, cyclists, two lanes of traffic in each direction, and tram lines.

Final design arrangement of Margit Hid reconstruction (acknowledgement: Főmterv)
Final design arrangement of Margit Hid reconstruction (acknowledgement: Főmterv)

To accommodate the greater width necessary, the design included a new orthotropic deck. Architectural features were made to look authentic or restored, most notably the overhead tram line supports and the lamp standards.

Project 3: Budakeszi water treatment plant

The water treatment plant serving the town of Budakeszi, close to Budapest, is the second of its type in Hungary. Much of the process plant is in a single building. Apart from the design of the plant itself, innovations include the need to ensure that it suited the surroundings.

Budakeszi water treatment plant (acknowledgement: Mélyépterv)
Budakeszi water treatment plant (acknowledgement: Mélyépterv)

Project 4: Aviary at Kittenberger Kálmán Plant and Wildlife Park

The design and construction of the aviary, which covers 5,000m2, reveal the complexity of providing an enclosure suitable for birds as well as visitors. As engineers, we necessarily considered the structural innovations, in particular the inverted pendulum columns, the mesh, and the connections.

Design of aviary at Kittenberger Kálmán Plant and Wildlife Park (acknowledgement: i-quadrat)
Design of aviary at Kittenberger Kálmán Plant and Wildlife Park (acknowledgement: i-quadrat)

Ceremony and Tierney Clark Award winner

The awards ceremony and ball was a much grander event than I have seen elsewhere, attendees including senior national politicians and the Mayor of Budapest. My able host Gábor combined his organisational responsibilities with introductions throughout the evening.

The first awards of the evening were for Barnabás Kis who received the golden ring for the Engineer of the Year 2015 for the Hungarocontrol project, a data-based connection system for air traffic control. Next was József Visontai for his overall professional activity as a structural engineer and university professor, who also received the golden ring for the year 2015.

The winner of the Tierney Clark award was selected as the Margit Hid reconstruction. After my short speech, the Chamber's President, Etelka Barsiné Pataky and I presented the award to the project team. A commendation was also given to the aviary team.

The presentations were followed by dancers, a soloist on the cimbolom (a metal-stringed chordophone – the national instrument of Hungary), an extensive buffet dinner and a band. It was, as you can tell, a huge and memorable event.

Traditional Hungarian dancers
Traditional Hungarian dancers
Guests enjoying the ceremony
Guests enjoying the ceremony
 

There is more to judging awards than judging; the experience brings broader experience and ideas with benefits to everyone involved.

About the Author

Barry Tuckwood
 

Barry Tuckwood (pictured below at the ceremony) runs management consultancy Barry Tuckwood Associates. He sits on the ICE BIM Action Group and the ICE Information Systems Panel.

Further Information

Budapest University of Technology and Economics' report of the ceremony

Mérnökújság – the monthly publication of the Hungarian Chamber of Engineers (parts available in English)

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