Architecture & High Performance Technology
Densifying Glebe Island Bridge
“How can hyper-density connect rather than isolate?”
Bridges have always played a major role in shaping Sydney’s cityscape, fuelling its connectivity, productivity and growth. The first Glebe Island Bridge opened in 1862 linking the CBD with Balmain, although it was replaced in 1903 with the Glebe Island Swing Bridge that we see today. Unfortunately, this is now decommissioned, limiting access around the Bays precinct. My proposal aims to reinvent the Old Glebe Island Bridge to provide greater connectivity in the Sydney Bays region. It will close the pedestrian and cycle link around the bay, improving access and amenity for local residents and commuters. But more than this, I propose an inhabited bridge, providing additional density to the city by utilising unused space, above and below existing infrastructure.
The Old Glebe Island Bridge is preserved in the design, utilising the road as a service and loading zone with limited parking for residents, with the ‘swing section’ repurposed to incorporate a café and dragon boat house. Access is provided by ramps at both the Pyrmont and Glebe end, while a water promenade also extends to the new dragon boat house, marina and park. The passage of boats is maintained through the centre operable bridge section, raised on tracks to a maximum height of 27m above sea level, matching the Anzac Bridge allowance.
The bridge itself is a shared pedestrian and cycle way, lined with modules of accommodation. At ground level, these are used as community workshops and studios and shops with residential provision above. The design embraces off-site modular construction; the structure consists of concrete pylons and beams with a lightweight steel grid above into which prefabricated modules can be inserted. The modules would be constructed in a factory at Botany, and shipped by boat to site, where they are lifted into place by a permanent crane. Owners can specify their own module design, including a selection of layouts and finishes. What’s more, the steel framework allows for modules to be repositioned, relocated, extended and adapted over time, creating a dynamic elevation that will evolve over the years. The bridge’s proximity with the water also benefits the use of tidal turbines for clean energy generation.