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AN INITIAL STUDY ON BRIDGE AESTHETICS

Bronne C. Dytoc Allan Mark Ignacio, Joan Margaret Malana, Grace Nalda

University of the Philippines College of Architecture

ABSTRACT: This paper focuses on bridge aesthetics and its inclusion in a design process.

Excerpts on bridge aesthetics attest to the significance in bridge design and its use. Thesis students of the University of the Philippines College of Architecture have initially chosen to investigate the pedestrian overpass beam bridge. Several variations have been generated and short- listed to the following final alternatives: (1) double-arch with linear deck, (2) A-shaped pylons cable-stayed with linear deck, (3) single canted arch with curved deck, (4) single pylon cable-stayed with curved deck.

Under supervision of the Building Science and Structural faculty, the bridge alternatives were designed and evaluated in terms of construction and maintenance, forming the costs portion of the data. The benchmark-beam bridge and the four final alternatives were also scale- modeled, photo- montaged, and set up in controlled on-site exhibits, where pedestrians were surveyed for their preference. Furthermore, selected architects, artists, engineers, and psychologists were interviewed qualitatively, establishing an approximate bridge-evaluation-gradient model.

The result is an initial template that integrates visual preference along with costs for bridge design selection. More studies on forms and site context are recommended. However, it is hoped that this may serve as a first model for evaluating future designs.

KEYWORDS: Architecture, Building Science, Bridge Aesthetics, Bridge Design, Research Methods

In bridge design, there is a certain exercise in Engineering Aesthetics to be undertaken, and I feel that the integration of technology and aesthetics deserves special attention. 1

When each of us first decided to become an engineer, we wanted to build beautiful bridges… beauty can be seen, strength and economy cannot! 2

In (Roebling, Eiffel, or Maillart’s) bridges they have found…new structural capability, high estheic quality, and least cost, all at the same time. The key was their willingness to consider esthetic quality a criterion equal in stature to all the others, and the knowledge and creativity to meet the challenge that resulted. 3

In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away… as if that line which the human eye will follow with effortless delight were a line that had not been invented, but simply discovered, had in the beginning been hidden by nature and in the end been found by the engineer. 4

1 Taken from Santiago Calatrava’s Introduction. CALATRAVA bridges. Kenneth Frampton, Anthony Webster, and Anthony Tischhauser (1996). Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel.

2 Edward Cohen. (1990) In the Eye of the Beholder. Esthetics in Concrete Bridge Design. ACI, Michigan. p 6

3 Frederick Gottemoeller. (1990) Esthetics and Engineers. Esthetics

4 Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Terre des Hommes.

p 171

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Fig. 1. A few footbridges integrating structural form with visual appeal (L-R: Thames Millenium Bridge
Fig. 1. A few footbridges integrating structural form with visual appeal (L-R: Thames Millenium Bridge
Fig. 1. A few footbridges integrating structural form with visual appeal (L-R: Thames Millenium Bridge

Fig. 1. A few footbridges integrating structural form with visual appeal (L-R: Thames Millenium Bridge by Norman Foster and Ove Arup, Gateshead Millenium Bridge by Wilkinson Eyre and Gifford and Partners, and Salford Trinity Footbridge by Santiago Calatrava)

1. BEING AESTHETIC

Studies have established that pleasure arises when adverse conditions are removed or moderate levels of arousal are achieved. Empirical aesthetics show that appreciation of beauty or pleasure has a positive effect on the human body. 5 Bridges in the city have this very potential to contribute to our daily urban experience, and the statements above are but a few quotes from noted engineers who espouse aesthetics as an important consideration in the training and application of bridge design. Countless examples throughout history, and more so in modern times, attest to the legitimacy of this view. However, in our local setting, proofs of creativity and daring in bridges are sorely lacking. Often, the design approach can be defensive, the result ugly.

The visual appeal of the bridge can be attributed to its form, details and site context. This paper explores the issue by initially focusing on the pedestrian overpass beam bridge form. The study’s objectives are to (1) generate form-optimized alternatives and (2) determine popular preference for a particular site context. Both objectives hope to address and disprove the perception that optimized form and visual appeal result in bridges that cost more.

form and visual appeal result in bridges that cost more. Fig. 2. Pedestrian Overpasses at Philcoa
form and visual appeal result in bridges that cost more. Fig. 2. Pedestrian Overpasses at Philcoa
form and visual appeal result in bridges that cost more. Fig. 2. Pedestrian Overpasses at Philcoa

Fig. 2. Pedestrian Overpasses at Philcoa and EDSA-Aurora exhibiting non-variation in form from the straight- line beam shape. Even the truss bridge near Batasan employs no variation in depth.

5 Studies by Helson in 1948 and 1964. Antonidades A. (1977) Architecture and Allied Design. USA.

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2.

A RECIPE TOWARDS BEAUTY IN BRIDGES

The study is limited to overpass bridges with straight-run decks and does not include loop bridges or interconnected overpasses. Experimentation was limited to steel bridges as this meant faster fabrication and easier construction. Roofing was not included, following the MMDA guideline to discourage vending and loitering on bridges.

2.1 Phase I - Form

Identification of bridge types – Girder, Truss, Arch, Cable-stayed, and Suspension.

Bridge types applicable to a medium span similar to EDSA. The suspension bridge was

excluded as it was deemed more economical for long spans. Application of Aesthetic Bridge Principles of Simplicity, Thinness, Continuity, and Proportionate Shaping. 6 The truss was eliminated due to discontinuity of its diagonals.

As a result of these initial steps, the remaining forms are the Girder, Arch and Cable-Stayed bridges. The MMDA constant-depth girder footbridge was recognized as the benchmark.

2.2 Phase II - Sway

Bridge variations were modeled in 1:200 scale and tested for bending and lateral motion.

 

CABLE-STAYED ARRAYS

 
 

STAR

FAN

HARP

GEOMETRIC

ARRAYS     STAR FAN HARP GEOMETRIC A-Shaped V-Shaped Portal Single   Fig. 3. Cable-Staye d
ARRAYS     STAR FAN HARP GEOMETRIC A-Shaped V-Shaped Portal Single   Fig. 3. Cable-Staye d
ARRAYS     STAR FAN HARP GEOMETRIC A-Shaped V-Shaped Portal Single   Fig. 3. Cable-Staye d
ARRAYS     STAR FAN HARP GEOMETRIC A-Shaped V-Shaped Portal Single   Fig. 3. Cable-Staye d

A-Shaped

A-Shaped
A-Shaped
A-Shaped
A-Shaped

V-Shaped

V-Shaped
V-Shaped
V-Shaped
V-Shaped

Portal

Portal
Portal
Portal
Portal

Single

Single
Single
Single
Single
 

Fig. 3. Cable-Staye d Bridge Variations

 

6 Initial preference studies generated common trends which have been generally categorized. Frederick Gottemoeler (1998) Bridgescape: The Art of Designing Bridges. John Wiley & Sons, Canada.

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ARCH CABLE ARRAYS

PARALLEL

ARCH CABLE ARRAYS PARALLEL RADIAL Double Arch Inclined Double Arch Parallel Double Arch Meeting at Third

RADIAL

ARCH CABLE ARRAYS PARALLEL RADIAL Double Arch Inclined Double Arch Parallel Double Arch Meeting at Third
ARCH CABLE ARRAYS PARALLEL RADIAL Double Arch Inclined Double Arch Parallel Double Arch Meeting at Third
ARCH CABLE ARRAYS PARALLEL RADIAL Double Arch Inclined Double Arch Parallel Double Arch Meeting at Third

Double Arch Inclined

Double Arch Parallel

PARALLEL RADIAL Double Arch Inclined Double Arch Parallel Double Arch Meeting at Third Points Double Arch
PARALLEL RADIAL Double Arch Inclined Double Arch Parallel Double Arch Meeting at Third Points Double Arch

Double Arch Meeting at Third Points

Double Arch Parallel Double Arch Meeting at Third Points Double Arch Meeting at Base Single Arch
Double Arch Parallel Double Arch Meeting at Third Points Double Arch Meeting at Base Single Arch

Double Arch Meeting at Base

Arch Meeting at Third Points Double Arch Meeting at Base Single Arch Fig. 4. Arch Bridge

Single Arch

at Third Points Double Arch Meeting at Base Single Arch Fig. 4. Arch Bridge Variations Due

Fig. 4. Arch Bridge Variations

Due to lateral sway the arch meeting at base and third points, and the V-shaped cable stayed bridge types were eliminated. Due to bending the star and geometric cable arrays were excluded. To further limit the stayed bridges, the cable arrangement was limited to the fan or radial array.

2.3 Phase III - Weight

In light of response to the issue of lateral sway, a new variation each was generated for the arch and the cable-stayed bridges. A canted arch was combined with a cambered, curved deck, and an inclined pylon was combined with a cambered, curved deck. They are consequently called 3D single-arch and the 3D single-pylon, respectively.

The rationale for these inclined curves was the employment of 3-dimensional actions of the canted arch and pylon against the curved deck to respond to lateral sway.

The shortlist of bridges now includes the benchmark MMDA Girder, 4 Double-Arch Variations, 3 Cable-Stayed fan arrays, and the two 3D bridges. A total of 10 variations.

These 10 “pre- finalists” were then designed and sized with more detail, using a span of 44 meters (as per MMDA design guidelines) and a load of 250 psf. The table below, Table 1, displays the estimated material weights converted from their designed sizes.

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STRUCTURE

STRUTS

CABLES

B EAMS

DECK

TOTAL

TOTAL

BRIDGE TYPE

(lbs)

(lbs)

(lbs)

(lbs)

(lbs)

(lbs)

(kg)

Double Arch Parallel with Parallel Cables

15,486.80

718.20

633.70

4,076.14

12,600.00

33,514.84

15,182.22

(DAPP)

Double Arch Parallel with Radial Cables

15,669.12

718.20

726.86

4,076.14

12,600.00

33,790.31

15,307.01

(DAPR)

Double Arch Inclined with Parallel Cables

15,593.67

67.94

645.05

4,076.14

12,600.00

32,982.79

14,941.21

(DAIP)

Double Arch Inclined with Radial Cables

15,748.38

38.07

739.20

4,076.14

12,600.00

33,201.79

15,040.41

(DAIR)

A-Shape

2,904.48

0.00

1,269.56

4,585.63

12,600.00

21,359.67

9,675.93

Portal

2,972.16

119.70

1,258.00

4,585.63

12,600.00

21,535.49

9,755.58

Single Pylon

2,222.55

0.00

2,380.32

4,585.63

12,600.00

21,788.50

9,870.19

3D Single Arch

11,915.60

0.00

937.62

4,075.14

12,600.00

29,528.36

13,376.35

3D Single Pylon

3,505.16

0.00

2403.33

4,585.63

12,600.00

23,094.13

10,461.64

MMDA Girder

34,447.74

6,750.00

0.00

0.00

12,600.00

53,797.74

24,370.38

 

Table 1. Estimated Weights of Bridge Variations

 

In summary, the DAIP has the least weight for double-arch bridges and the A-shape for cable- stayed bridges. The 3D bridges were also quite competitive in terms of weight. Along with the MMDA Girder, these form the five “finalists” for the next phase of comparative analysis.

“finalists” for the next phase of comparative analysis. DAIP A-shape 3D Arch 3D Pylon MMDA Fig.

DAIP

for the next phase of comparative analysis. DAIP A-shape 3D Arch 3D Pylon MMDA Fig. 5.

A-shape

for the next phase of comparative analysis. DAIP A-shape 3D Arch 3D Pylon MMDA Fig. 5.

3D Arch

for the next phase of comparative analysis. DAIP A-shape 3D Arch 3D Pylon MMDA Fig. 5.

3D Pylon

for the next phase of comparative analysis. DAIP A-shape 3D Arch 3D Pylon MMDA Fig. 5.

MMDA

Fig. 5. The Five “Finalist” Bridges

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2.4. Phase IV - Construction and Maintenance

2.4.1. Construction Costs - included the following :

Material - Superstructure and Substructure steel, Earth, Concrete, and Form works,

Electrical works and Site Finishing Fabrication - Welding and Shop painting/finishing

Installation - Equipment fees, Transport costs, and On-Site Welding

Labor - for all different aspects of fabrication, construction, and installation

Design and Site Operations - Design and Documentation, Site Mobilization and Survey,

Traffic Management, and other incidental costs and contingencies Construction Time - includes fabrication and installation, excludes curing time of concrete

2.4.2. Maintenance Costs - includes Restoration, Repairs, and Lighting for a period of 25 years

Table 2 below shows the estimated construction costs of the five bridge variations while Table 3 shows production time estimates. Table 4 shows estimated maintenance costs over 25 years.

BRIDGE

MAT’L

FABRIC’N

INSTALL’N

LABOR

D’SIGN/SITE

TOTAL

DAIP

1,073,571.92

417,127.54

268,804.15

252,264.19

1,652,591.22

3,664,375.01

A-SHAPE

1,034,400.04

381,556.69

197,250.34

255,360.38

1,596,599.88

3,465,179.34

3D ARCH

799,860.06

324,041.64

197,231.11

207,846.16

1,463,820.78

2,992,803.76

3D PYLON

846,463.73

342,190.91

221,947.30

213,819.29

1,501,138.71

3,125,569.93

MMDA

2,252,083.03

917,471.76

220,512.33

356,073.06

2,144,134.01

5,890,292.19

 

Table 2. Estimated Costs of Bridge Variations

 

BRID GE

Fabrication / Installation

TOTAL

BRIDGE

Over 25 years

DAIP

11

16

27

DAIP

3,087,787.00

A-SHAPE

8

14

22

A-SHAPE

3,0755,75.00

3D ARCH

10

14

24

3D ARCH

3,103,336.00

3D PYLON

8

14

22

3D PYLON

3,0985,28.00

MMDA

6

13

19

MMDA

2,470,833.00

Table 3. Estimated Time of Bridge Production 7

Table 4. Estimated Maintenance Costs

7 It must be noted that these estimates of production time are quite ideal and are rendered moot and even irrelevant when tied into the reality of on-site problems and multi-party mis -coordination. A case in point is the trademark pink-and-blue MMDA overpass at the end of Julia Vargas corner C5. The main bridge spans were erected very quickly within what seems to be a week’s time, yet several weeks passed by before the locations and installation of stairs were finalized and realized. Furthermore, when compared to the expected 25-year service period, the issue of a variance of one week in total production time is considered insignificant.

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2.5. Phase V - Popular Aesthetic Preference

The five bridges were then modeled in 1:40m scale, painted white, photo- montaged, and laid out onto simulation boards for an exhibit and survey at a selected site along EDSA in Pasay’s Barangay 195. White was used since the study was not taking color schemes into consideration. The simulation boards and the models were laid in a linear manner, and their order of appearance was shuffled randomly every half hour to avoid “first-and- last impression” biases in selection. A categorical survey method with 200 adult respondents was employed to achieve data consistency and survey sensitivity level of 1.75, the measure in which to consider relevant difference. This method is also patterned after a study on environmental aesthetics and well-being. 8

after a study on environmental aesthetics and well-being. 8 Fig. 6. Sample Simulation Boards - 3D
after a study on environmental aesthetics and well-being. 8 Fig. 6. Sample Simulation Boards - 3D

Fig. 6. Sample Simulation Boards - 3D Single Pylon bridge on the left and Double Arch bridge on the right.

Participants who took part in the survey were asked to view the different designs and, once they have finished viewing all five, were asked to choose which bridge type they liked best. They were not given any information regarding weight, costs or maintenance, thus restricting their aesthetic preference of bridge form to what they see in the boards and the models.

bridge form to what they see in the boards and the models. BRIDGE Votes DAIP 143

BRIDGE

Votes

DAIP

143

A-SHAPE

30

3D ARCH

7

3D PYLON

1

MMDA

19

Table 5. Aesthetic Preference Results

Fig. 7. Aesthetic Preference Survey at a Pedestrian Overpass in Barangay 195, Pasay, and Results

8 Galindo, M.P. and Rodriguez, J.A.C. (2000) Environmental Aesthetics and Psychological Wellbeing:

Relationships between Preference Judgments for Urban Landscapes and Other Relevant Affective Responses. Psychology in Spain, Vol.4, No.1, 2000, p 13-27. Colegio Oficial de Psicólogos, Spain.

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2.6. Phase VI - Expert Opinions and Rankings

Educated non-random sampling or purposive sampling was also conducted with a group of professionals representing the 4 distinct fields of architecture, artistry, engineering, and psychology. Three representatives were consulted for each profession. They were informed of the comparative construction, maintenance, and aesthetic preference survey data of the five bridges. Upon becoming familiar with this larger scope of information, they were asked to rank the bridges from 1 (best) to 5 (worst). The results were tabulated and averaged.

BRIDGE

Architects

Artists

Engineers

Psychologists

AVERAGE

DAIP

1.33

2.67

1.00

1.67

1.67

A-SHAPE

1.67

2.67

2.00

1.33

1.92

3D ARCH

4.00

2.00

4.50

3.00

3.38

3D PYLON

3.67

2.67

2.33

2.33

2.75

MMDA

4.33

5.00

4.50

2.00

3.96

 

Table 6. Professional Rankings of the Five Bridge Schemes

 

Furthermore, they were asked to evaluate the importance of (1) construction issues, (2) maintenance programs, and (3) aesthetic preference in design selection of bridges. They were asked to rate these three aspects in percentage weights, totaling 100%.

Criteria Percentage Per Profession Psychologists Architects Engineers Artists 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Criteria Percentage Per Profession
Psychologists
Architects
Engineers
Artists
0%
20%
40%
60%
80%
100%
Psychologists Architects Engineers Artists 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Construction Maintenance Preference

ConstructionMaintenance Preference

MaintenanceConstruction Preference

PreferenceConstruction Maintenance

Psychologists Architects Engineers Artists 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Construction Maintenance Preference
80% 100% Construction Maintenance Preference Fig. 8. Construction, Maintenance, Aesthetic Preference

Fig. 8. Construction, Maintenance, Aesthetic Preference Rankings and Total Average on the right.

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The obtained average percentage ratio among the three concerns was treated as the initial template grading system to determine the most preferable bridge.

BRIDGE

Construction

Maintenance

Aesthetics

TOTAL

%

31%

31%

38%

100%

DAIP

25.35

24.81

27.17

77.32

A-SHAPE

29.64

24.90

5.70

60.25

3D ARCH

26.74

24.68

1.33

52.75

3D PYLON

31.00

24.72

0.19

55.91

MMDA

15.75

31.00

3.61

50.36

 

Table 7. Grading System Results for the Five Bridge Schemes 9

The professionals also defined added Safety and Security, Accessibility, Local Site Response, and Site Context as additional aspects in evaluating a bridge as preferable.

3. BEHOLDING BEAUTY : CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

After conducting the different phases of this first study into aesthetics in bridge design, it has been found that the most optimized bridge design, A-shaped cable-stayed bridge, was not the most aesthetically preferred, Double-arch bridge. This disparity, not surprisingly, is similar to the difference between nutritional meals and tasty cuisine.

Furthermore, the numerical characteristics of material and costs lend support to the thesis that appealing bridges are not automatically costlier than conventional ones. On the contrary, the straight- line beam bridge, rated as the least preferred, also happened to be the costliest in terms of construction and weight.

Nevertheless, the researchers recognize that more studies on various aspects and dimensions of this topic can be done to understand bridge design potentials more fully. Among them :

Modelling bridge forms, main bridge elements, and details in parametric increments

Designing more completely to generate more accurate numerical data

Conducting more controlled methods in surveys to generate data and document behavior

Studying the aspects of color schemes and lighting to give the bridge presence

Studying lighting schemes for issues of security, safety, and recognition

Studying details of stairs and access ramps for physical accessibility

Studying how various site contexts relate to different bridge forms

Using more detailed simulations, models, and mockups to understand visual perceptions of safety or danger, and aesthetic pleasure arousal, as these influence bridge design and usage

It is hoped that this initial study may spur interest in integrating the topics of form and aesthetics in bridge design education, both for architects and engineers.

9 Formulas : Least Construction.Cost x 31% Bridge Const. Cost

Least Maint. Cost x 31% Bridge Maint. Cost

9

Aesthetics Votes

x 38%

Total No. of Voters

REFERENCES

(1990) Esthetics in Concrete Bridge Design. ACI, Michigan

Antonidades A. (1977) Architecture and Allied Design. USA.

Blaser, Werner. ed. (1990) Santiago Calatrava. Engineering Architecture. Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel.

Frampton, K., Webster, A., and Tischhauser, A. (1996) CALATRAVA Bridges. Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel.

Galindo, M.P. and Rodriguez, J.A.C. (2000) Environmental Aesthetics and Psychological Wellbeing: Relationships between Preference Judgments for Urban Landscapes and Other Relevant Affective Responses. Psychology in Spain, Vol.4, No.1, 2000, p 13-27. Colegio Oficial de Psicólogos, Spain.

Gordon, J. E. (1978) STRUCTURES: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down. Penguin Books. England.

Gottemoeler, F. (1998). Bridgescape: The Art of Designing Bridges. John Wiley & Sons, Canada.

Pearce, M., and Jobson, R. (2002) Bridge Builders. Wiley-Academy. Britain

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bronne C. Dytoc is a practicing architect as well as a member of the University of the Philippines College of Architecture faculty. Having acquired his B.S. Architecture degree from U.P. (1988), and his Masters degree in Building Science from the University of Southern California School of Architecture in Los Angeles (1992), he currently teaches architecture, structures, and technology, and conducts researches in building science and spatial quality. His commitment of integrating architecture and structure in teaching, writing, and practice has helped him earn the first University of the Philippines Innovation in Teaching Award. Email = bronnedytoc@hotmail.com

Allan Mark Ignacio, Joan Margaret Malana, and Grace Nalda are graduating students at the

University of the Philippines College of Architecture, and have conducted research on this topic under Prof. B C Dytoc’s Building Science lab for their undergraduate thesis.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We would like to thank the following people for contributing their time and expertise as the professionals for the purposive sampling portion of this study.

Architects

Grace Ramos, Romeo Santos, and Zenaida Galingan

Artists

Benjie Cabangin, Ernesto Enrique, and Joy Ilagan

Engineers

Alfredo Juing, Ramon Nolido, and Ruel Ramirez

Psychologists Jose Gutierrez, Therese Lladoc, and Ronillene Malana

We would also like to extend our gratitude to the AR71 Structures classes of the 1 st semester, 2004, for helping extensively in the making of the many bridge variation models.

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