The Perry Bridge over the Waikato River on Te Awa — The Great River Ride has beaten structures from around the world to win an international award for engineering excellence.
The bridge, at Horotiu north of Hamilton, was recognised as the best pedestrian bridge at the global Structural Awards in London last weekend.
The structure — which opened just over a year ago — was awarded for excellence in the design of pedestrian and/or cycle bridges, or other lightweight bridge structures. It was up against the Knostrop Footbridge in Leeds, the Somers Town Bridge in London and the Suzhou Dajia, Double Bridges in China.
The judging panel of international experts in engineering, design, architecture and construction said the design was a crucial element in attracting public interest and support for the path.
"This beautiful arched bridge has captured the public imagination and its image, and the elegance of the design has helped significantly in the fundraising for the project."
"The way that the bridge was launched is thought to be unique. The bridge steelwork was constructed on the bank, cables were tensioned across the gap and the leading edge of the bridge was drawn across, sliding on skids on the cables. This most ingenious method only took two hours and a tracked excavator to get the bridge in place," the judging panel said.
Designed by structural and civil engineering business Holmes Consulting, and built by Emmetts Civil Construction, Perry Bridge is New Zealand's first network arch bridge designed for pedestrians and cyclists. The bridge is the longest of all four network arch bridges in the country.
General manager of Brian Perry Charitable Trust, Jennifer Palmer, said it was rewarding to see the bridge recognised on the national, and international stage.
"It's a credit not only to our amazing design and construction teams — Emmetts and Holmes Group — but also to the working group who turned the dream in a reality. That includes Waikato District Council, NZTA, the Te Awa River Ride Trust and the dozens of funders and other contributors — as well as the wider community who supported this project from the very beginning," Ms Palmer said.
The bridge features mosaic artworks at each end designed by local schools on either side. Adding further local flavour, the colour scheme, patterned surfacing and lighting were developed with local artists to reflect the themes and story of Te Awa pathway.
The Structural Awards have been running for more than 50 years and past winners include the Sydney Opera House, the London Velodrome, and the Pompidou Centre in Paris.
The award win is the latest in a number of accolades for engineering design excellence and innovative construction behind Perry Bridge.
As well as a silver award at the Association for Consulting and Engineering Professionals (ACENZ) Innovate Awards, the structure also won a top honour at the New Zealand Bridge Awards earlier this month.