Gairnshiel Jubilee Bridge / Moxon Architects

Architects: Moxon Architects
Year: 2023
Photographs: Moxon Architects
Main Contractor: Wills Brothers
Client: Aberdeenshire Council
Civil and Structural Engineer: Arcadis
City: Aberdeenshire
Country: Scotland, United Kingdom

The Gairnshiel Jubilee Bridge, designed by Moxon Architects in Aberdeenshire, enhances connectivity within the Cairngorms National Park. Completed in 2023 to honor Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, the bridge diverts traffic from the historic 1749 Gairnshiel Bridge, preserving it for non-vehicular use. This crucial infrastructure provides a north-south link between Deeside and Speyside.

Gairnshiel jubilee bridge / moxon architects

Moxon Architects, in collaboration with Arcadis, completed the Gairnshiel Jubilee Bridge in rural Aberdeenshire within the Cairngorms National Park. Named for Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022, the bridge diverts highway traffic away from the 1749 Category A-listed Gairnshiel Bridge. This preservation effort protects one of the area’s most historic structures and ensures a crucial north-south link between Deeside and Speyside.

The new bridge stands parallel to the original Gairnshiel Bridge, which could no longer accommodate modern traffic. Despite weight restrictions in 2016, its geometry, narrow width, and tight approach caused frequent vehicle collisions, resulting in structural damage and road closures. The new bridge, designed for improved access over the River Gairn, has two lanes and can carry large goods vehicles, eliminating 58km detours caused by damage.

Designing the new bridge involved a detailed analysis of the existing bridge and the technical needs of the new location. Three key considerations guided the design: accommodating river flood levels with a single clear span, maintaining a slender profile due to the low highway alignment, and creating a sculptural yet robust form that complements the natural landscape and the adjacent 18th-century structure. The original Gairnshiel Bridge was part of a military road built after the second Jacobite rising.

Gairnshiel jubilee bridge / moxon architects

The new Gairnshiel Jubilee Bridge features a bold, slimline geometry, using robust materials like recycled, locally sourced granite for parapets and embankments, and weathering steel for the primary structure. This design creates a contemporary interpretation of the original structure. The bridge maintains a slender profile by tapering the cross-section of its lower portion, enhancing structural performance and giving the construction a thinner appearance at the edges.

Granite parapets echo the extreme slenderness of the historic structure at mid-span, and granite-clad concrete abutment wing walls taper downwards to blend into the landscape. The weathering steel of the exposed bridge beam will gradually change color to muted dark brown, further integrating into the background.

Gairnshiel jubilee bridge / moxon architects

Besides providing a new route for vehicles, the bridge protects and celebrates the original structure by keeping a respectful distance, allowing the 18th-century bridge to be used for foot, cycle, and equestrian purposes. Due to the site’s sensitive nature, the team spent several years engaging with the local community and heritage bodies before commencing the design process.

Gairnshiel jubilee bridge / moxon architects
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