Thursday 22 July 2021

Seafarers Bridge - when beauty and function collide

Some bridges stand as testaments to historical periods, like the Roman-built Alcantara Bridge in Spain; some are destined to be THE landmark and love of all media: people talk about them for centuries, and their images get into photographs as proofs and keepsakes of long-planned visits. The ever-so-marvellous Sydney Harbour Bridge falls into that category squarely. Some are architectural wonders; magazines talk about the design challenges, geniuses flocked together to overcome an "impossible" hurdle; the duration from commencement to completion of the built became topic of conversations and textbook contents. Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge, a suspension bridge with a longest record in the world, is one of them. 

So, what left of the others, those in between and below? What about Seafarers Bridge, a quiet eye-catcher that probably would never become the frequent talk of town nor any sensational scene? It is beautiful, obscure and mysterious, with an artistic crescendo rises towards the south. It's exquisite, and I swear from a certain angle, it looks like a shark ready to attack without a sound. Functionally, it spans across perfectly linking the sky-rise glass buildings at the North Bank to the Convention Centre at the South. It's probably the only one (or rare few) connection between Docklands and South Bank, bringing the two distinct developments (so close yet so far) together via the cycle and pedestrian path, 

Design wise, it's contemporary and aesthetically pleasing. It's nothing monstrous, fits well into the tranquil watery surrounding, elegant but "blends in", unique but does no showy dance. It possesses characteristics befitting the location; a connector that goes well with the stillness of Yarra River, yet visually pleasing enough to make us pause, gaze and smile. The white-washed shades of colour arching towards the bright blue sky presents a stunning view from different angles along the majestic river. 

I love the blend between steel and concrete, complemented by clear glass balustrades with minimal visual obstruction to the natural horizon and beauty of the water scenery. 


The Seafarers Bridge won multiple awards (Australian Steel Institute Judges Special Award 2010, Victorian Architecture Medal at the Victorian Architecture Awards in 2010, Australian Construction Achievement Award, Public Architecture Award at the Australian National Architecture Awards, to name a few). I do urge you to take a closer look the next time you walk pass this quiet wave-like bridge. 

Location: Siddeley St, Docklands, VIC 3008 
Architect: Grimshaw Partners 
Construction end: January 2009