View of a section of the Living Bridge lit up at dusk.; View of a section of the Living Bridge lit up at dusk.;

Living Bridge, University of Limerick, Limerick

Ireland’s longest pedestrian bridge creates an organic dialogue with its environment

University of Limerick’s pedestrian Living Bridge, with its light, undulating profile, is a connecting link between the university grounds on either side of the River Shannon.

The steel footbridge was designed as a large sweeping arch gently resting on strategically positioned piers dotted through the river, joining the established County Limerick campus to the south with the new sites in County Clare on the northern bank.

Respectful of the area’s conservation heritage, the bridge was constructed off site and then carefully installed across the river.

The footbridge consists of six cable-truss spans, which create the under-slung catenary cables that add to the bridge’s smoothly curving profile, creating an organic dialogue with the unique natural setting.

Arup developed the construction methodology to support the planning application and demonstrate that every effort had been made to minimise the environmental impact during the construction works.

View of a section of the Living Bridge over the River Shannon. View of a section of the Living Bridge over the River Shannon.
The Living Bridge is a 350m-long steel bridge with six cable-truss spans.

A living link

The idea was to create a new ‘living’ link between the University’s established campus to the south of the River Shannon within County Limerick and its developing annexe to the north of the river within County Clare. At this location, the River Shannon is wide and shallow, fragmented by woodland growth and with extensive floodplains.

As a candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC), this area supports the spawning of a number of species protected under the EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC). The environmentally sensitive nature of the site required a visual response which would celebrate the ‘hidden world’ of the river landscape and encourage users to linger as they cross.

Arup worked closely with the statutory bodies and stakeholders to ensure all environmental concerns had been addressed at the preliminary design stage.

View of the Living Bridge lit up at night-time. View of the Living Bridge lit up at night-time.

The Living Bridge won the The Institution of Structural Engineers' Award for Pedestrian Bridges and a RIBA European Award in 2008.