Friday, 17 December 2004

Great Art, Great Engineering

Milau BridgeSometimes the line between Great Art and Great Engineering is nonexistent. It's not often that you can look at a brutally functional man-made structure and declare it to be an object of transcendent beauty, but it happens sometimes.
As with the Millau Bridge, recently opened in France. In the words of the designer and architect, Norman Foster :
"The whole thing looks impossibly delicate," Foster said in a telephone interview of what he called his "sculpture in the landscape" a 394-million-euro ($523 million) project financed by construction firm Eiffage.

"It is a dialogue between nature and the man-made," he said.

The engineering feat has drawn rapturous praise for its elegant lines, which allow it to blend seamlessly into the surrounding region famed for its gorges, medieval villages and Roquefort cheese.

"We were attracted by the elegance and logic of a structure that would march across the heroic landscape and in the most minimal way connect one plateau to the other" said Foster, who designed the glass dome that tops Germany's Reichstag parliament building in Berlin.

"We were driven by the scale of the idea and the shared passion for the poetic dimension of engineering and its sculptural potential," he said in a statement.
Such words are usually accompanied by great steaming piles of BS, but in this case, the man's right.

The Times Online has a gallery of photos of it. It speaks for itself.

Milau Bridge

Oh yes, it's also the tallest elevated roadway in the world.
The highest of the bridge's seven concrete pillars stands at 343 meters (1,125 ft), 19 meters (62 ft) higher than the Eiffel Tower. At almost 2.5 km (1.5 miles), it is longer than the Champs Elysees and slightly curved to afford drivers a dramatic view of the surrounding countryside and the ancient town of Millau with its medieval bell tower.


Jay said...

And I have to wonder: was this really necessar?

andy said...

Was it really necessary? What a fool! This will relieve the people of Millau of the misery of bumper to bumper holiday traffic. Millau is the only bottleneck between Calais and Spain and the bridge will take 4 hours off the journey. At least France do something about motoring problems unlike the British Government. Millau is also a very beautiful place that was only spoilt by the amount of traffic. I can't wait to use it!

Zoe Brain said...

Neccessary? Yes, I think it was, by any reasonable definition of the term.

The Economic Rationalist:
Cost : 394 million Euros.
Approximate Revenue : 10,000 cars x 300 days x 4.6 Euros + 25,000 cars x 60 days x 6.5 Euros = 23 Million Euros. The additional revenue (5.25 days and 19 Euros per heavy vehicle) should pay for the maintenance, so we're talking about a 6% rate of return on investment, quite reasonable.

The Environmental:
About 5 million car trips per year using far less fuel, and creating far less pollution. Assuming cost of petrol saved is comparable to half the off-season cost of using the bridge, it's still over 5 million liters of fuel saved per year, even at European prices.

The Utilitarian:
5 million drivers per year no longer subject to frustrating traffic delays for hours on their way to, or back from, the family holidays. This will make literally millions of people happier, and may even save a few lives from coronaries, strokes, and road rage.

The Aesthetic:
See pictures in original article.

So not just Yes, but Hell Yes!

Unknown said...

This is so fricking high!!!!!!
It's a cool bridge.