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A visualisation of the new design, Source: Arup / COBE, City of Berlin

New Mühlendamm bridge in Berlin offers flexibility in the coming green transition

New Mühlendamm bridge in Berlin offers flexibility in the coming green transition

The winning design will allow for flexibility and vehicle reduction

The City of Berlin announced the winning design for the redevelopment of Mühlendamm bridge on 28 July. The local engineering office Arup Deutschland GmbH and the architects from COBE A / S from Copenhagen submitted the winning design and according to the ten-person jury, it is the best because it offers a lot of flexibility for the coming green energy transition in Germany.

Several unique challenges that need a special approach

Currently, the Mühlendamm bridge in Mitte has around 72,000 vehicles and over 2,500 trucks passing through it every day. As such, it is one of the most important arteries through the heart of Berlin. However, the bridge was constructed in the 1960s and a number of loadbearing and structural defects have developed over the years, making swift reconstruction necessary.

The competition participants, in turn, had to meet complex requirements in terms of design, functionality, sustainability, construction, economic efficiency and the urban-architectural integration into the existing heterogeneous environment of the historic centre.

For starters, the Mühlendamm cannot be completely closed for the duration of the construction. Instead, first, half of the bridge will be closed off and rebuilt according to the new design, then the other half will undergo the same process.

the river under the bridgeA view of the underbelly of the bridge, Source: City of Berlin

Furthermore, there is a turning point for freight and passenger traffic in the Spee river right underneath the bridge that has to remain open. This makes the construction of loadbearing columns in the river impossible.  

According to the jury, the new bridge does all this and more

The new structure will span the Spree with a slight concave curve on both sides, connecting the banks and integrating the adjacent urban space. Additionally, instead of the six car lanes on the old bridge, the new one will have only four, with two of them being transformed into tramlines, that will connect Potsdamer Platz and Hallesches Tor.

visualistaion of the new bridgeThe new bridge will connect the adjacent urban spaces,
Source: Arup / COBE, City of Berlin

Lane reduction is part of the future vision for Berlin that city planners are trying to account for in this design, as over the coming years Germany has to reduce CO2 emissions and cars. One of the best ways to reduce traffic is to cut down on vehicle capacity.

Ephraim Gothe, District Councillor for Urban Development in Mitte and member of the jury expressed his desire for a very quick downgrade to the bridge’s car lanes after its construction. The vehicle lanes can be reduced to just one per direction - in favour of more bicycle and pedestrian traffic.

Regine Günther, Senator for Environment, Transport and Climate Protection was quoted in a press release, saying: “The future Mühlendamm Bridge will be a bridge for the Berlin mobility transition, with plenty of space for the city-friendly modes of transport tram, bicycle and pedestrian traffic. "

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