Cezary M. Bednarski. Inderhavnen Bridge Competition, Copenhagen

Inderhavnen Bridge. Hardesty & Hanover teamed with UK-based Studio Bednarski and Flint & Neill to win the international competition to design the new Inderhavnen Bridge, in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Inderhavnen Bridge. Hardesty & Hanover teamed with UK-based Studio Bednarski and Flint & Neill to win the international competition to design the new Inderhavnen Bridge, in Copenhagen, Denmark. The winning design was developed for Københavns Kommune (Copenhagen City Council) as part of the Inner Harbor development. The retractile bridge has been nicknamed “The Kissing Bridge” due to the nature of the two moving spans that meet in the center when closed.  The bridge opened in August 2015. Source: hardestyhanover.com
The author of the article: Cezary Bednarski Studio Bednarski Ltd. Architects, England
Cezary Bednarski
Studio Bednarski Ltd. Architects, England
A chartered architect with 38 years of design and construction experience, including bridges and urban environments. A founder-director of London-based Studio Bednarski Ltd. A highly critical and provocative member of juries, panels and scientific committees. Winner of a number of awards and commendations. An outright winner in 23 UK and international architectural and urban design competitions.
Key past and current associations and affiliations: Member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Fellow and Advisory Council Member of the Royal Society of Arts; Fellow and a Member of Fellows Committee of the 21st Century Trust/ Salzburg Global Seminar); Member of the Royal Institute of British Architects Panel of Competition Assessors, advisor to UNESCO, architectural and urban advisor to the mayor of Warsaw, member of the London Borough of Islington Conservation and Design Panel, and of London Borough of Brent Design Review Panel. Member of the British Group of IABSE. A Rome Scholar with the British School at Rome, a Diploma Unit Master at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, an external examiner at the University of Cardiff Architecture School, and a visiting Professor of Architecture at Instituto Superior Politecnico Jose Antonio Echeverria, in Flavana, Cuba. Lectures internationally.
The article is published according to the edition: Cezary M. Bednarski. Inderhavnen Bridge Competition, Copenhagen // Competition Culture in Europe: Voices : The results of a pan-European call by Project Compass, A10 new European architecture Cooperative and Architectuur Lokaal, to be presented and discussed on 25 May 2018, Palazzo Widmann, Venice / Edited by Walter Menteth ; Project Compass CIC. — [London], 2018. — 155 p., ill. — P. 22—29.
The original electronic version of the article: https://tehne.com/library/competition-culture-europe-voices-london-2018
Copyright, License: © Project Compass CIC under a Creative Commons copyright license: CC-BY-ND

Inderhavnen Bridge Competition, Copenhagen


Cezary M. Bednarski

Studio Bednarski Ltd. Architecture, England


This competition was announced via the EU Official Journal, calling for expressions of interest. It involved three openable bridges in Copenhagen, a city divided by the water course of its inland harbour. New links were needed between the heart of the city on the west side, and the area to the east, where the new Opera Elouse is situated (figure 3.1). There is ever-diminishing navigation of large ships in the port, and its waterfront land is undergoing dramatic development. This increasingly intimate setting, in which pedestrians and vessel users alike can appreciate the scenic harbour, called for appropriate crossings. Objects of urban acupuncture were needed to rationalise the flow of urban energies.
figure. 3.1 Inderhanvnen Bridge competition. Masterplan by night
figure. 3.1
Inderhavnen Bridge competition. Masterplan by night
Almost as a matter of course the bridge engineer Ian Firth, then of Flint & Neill (now COWI), and I decided to have a go. Ian and I had previously entered, and won, invited bridge design competitions outside of the UK.
One of them was in Helsinki. In that one there was no monetary prize, only the job. We seem to have been swindled out of that project by the Helsinki City Office. A bridge was built but not ours, and we got nothing back from our investment. We were even never formally told that our bridge would not be built.
Another one was in Paris. There we got the job and advanced the project up to the construction tender stage, when the project was cancelled. The tender envelopes were never opened.
My studio lost money on this project as not all of our agreed fees were paid, but we seem unable to recover our money from any party in France.
Were the project in the UK we would have been well placed to recover our due fees via legal process. Our French collaborator advised not to even think about trying to recover our fees in France.
However, our shared passion for bridges, and for a fair challenge, took over again. On 13 January 2009 we submitted our expression of interest in Copenhagen. On a personal level the motivation was also the fact that Ian's mother was Danish, and I, as an architect, was eager to pick up the gauntlet thrown by the 'nation of designers'... We were chuffed at having been shortlisted, but seeing global star names on the shortlist I had that nagging thought - is this a fair contest or just a cover-up for commissioning a global star? Still, we entered.
figure 3.2 Inderhavnen Bridge competition design. Plan of the bridge closed
figure 3.2
Inderhavnen Bridge competition design. Plan of the bridge closed
Each of the ten invited teams was to propose solutions for all three crossings. The submission was limited to seven A0 panels. We submitted six, covering all three bridges. After the design competition stage two teams were selected for further clarifications and negotiations for the main bridge, and two others for the two smaller bridges. In the end our design was named as the ultimate winner for the main crossing. We won and we built it (figure 3.2, 3.3).
figure 3.3 Inderhanvnen Bridge competition design. Plan of the bridge open
figure 3.3
Inderhavnen Bridge competition design. Plan of the bridge open
All teams that submitted a compliant entry received a fee of DKK 225,000 (about EUR 30,200) exclusive of VAT as payment for the preparation of their entry. In addition, each team with partners based outside Denmark who participated in a site visit prior to submission of its entry received a lump sum of DKK 10,000 (about €1,350) exclusive of VAT to cover travelling expenses. Besides that, participants had to cover all expenses relating to the preparation of their entries, their submission and activities associated with participation in the competition. This was more than fair, when compared to many other design competitions (figure 3.6).
"...beautifully conceived and magical in use. The attraction of the bridge is its telescopic design, which is based on the actual use of the bridge. This telescopic design is extremely well thought out and a surprising proposal for a new bridge that will be a constant feature of the harbour space..."
The jury report 2008
The project delivery encountered a variety of challenges. First there was a legal challenge by sailboat owners unhappy that they would no longer have free exit to the sea as and when wanted, but instead would have to have the bridge opened for navigation. Then the Komune's in-house project management proved very weak, and, worst of all, did not facilitate close collaboration between the design team and the contractor, and overrode a number of the design team's instructions to the contractor. This was an unfortunate experience for us, and it led, among others, to delivery of sub-standard fabrication and finishes. Then the original contractor went bankrupt. Considerable delays in delivery followed due to the need for sourcing a new contractor.
Access and safety advice was provided by the Komune. As the bridge, owing to its structural design, features a change of direction along its ramped cycle path, full-scale tests were carried out to determine the safe angle of direction change. These were carried on mock-up ramps, riding up and down, by the city office staff on their bicycles. The bridge was designed to the structural Eurocodes and Danish National Annex Documents, together with some special requirements imposed by the Danish authorities.


According to updates from the mayor of Copenhagen, since its opening in August 2016 the bridge has been used daily by over ten thousand cyclists and over twenty thousand pedestrians (figure 3.4, 3.5, 3.7). It has dramatically reduced commuting time in the Danish capital, also proving a popular destination and a place for rest and social interactions.
Put against other bridge design contests, for example a shambolic 2017 competition involving a pedestrian bridge in Warsaw, which we withdrew from, the Copenhagen contest was very well, even meticulously, organised and run.
The competition data and documents were comprehensive, and relatively few questions were asked by the participants. The compensation paid to all participants was exemplary, showing respect for the effort that they had to put in. The jury composition was comprehensive and as one would expect on a bridge design contest. At no point did we feel used, or abused, or taken for granted.
(Summary details of the as built bridge can be found in the project data that follows).
figure 3.4 Inderhavnen Bridge. Detail of the completed bridge
figure 3.4
Inderhavnen Bridge. Detail of the completed bridge
figure 3.5 Inderhavnen Bridge. View of the completed bridge when open
figure 3.5
Inderhavnen Bridge. View of the completed bridge when open
"...the entrant sought inspiration in the opportunity to optimise the functionality and create a new public space rather than letting the bridge be an exponent of an extravagant staged structural form.... the bridge... features a compelling overall concept and an attractive design that will help form the identity of the site in the future."
The jury report 2008


  • Name: INDERHAVNEN (Inner Harbour) BRIDGE
  • Location: Connecting the southern side of Nyhavn with Gronlandske Handels Plads, Copenhagen
  • Country: DENMARK
  • Year: 2009


  • Type: An Openable Bridge
  • Size:
    • Bridge overall length: 180m
    • Navigation channel width: 50m
    • Fixed concrete decks width: 2×4m each side
    • Sliding steel decks width: 8m. Weight of sliding steel decks: 250 tonnes each
    • Main/front steel wheels: 2 sets of twin forged steel wheels of 1,8m diameter each
    • Opening seguence: less than 1 minute
  • Budget Cost: £11m (GBP) (€12.54m)


  • Client: Københavns Kommune, with funding provided by the AP Møller and Chastine McKinney Møller Foundation (and some funding also provided by Københavns Kommune) 
  • Programmer/Agent: Københavns Kommune
  • Public/Private: Public
  • Procedure: A Restricted (invited) Design Contest, with negotiation
  • Procedure Reference: Directive 2004/18/EC. Article 66
  • Stages:
    • 1 expression of interest/portfolio stage,
    • 2 design stages, with additionally 1 interview stage, and
    • 1 negotiation stage on completion (see below).
  • Project Intention: Intention to build
  • Conditions Applied: The procedures of the Technical and Environmental Administration of The City of Copenhagen and the Architects' Association of Denmark
figure 3.6 Inderhavnen Bridge. View of the winning competition proposal
figure 3.6
Inderhavnen Bridge. View of the winning competition proposal


  • Open call: 28 November 2008
  • Competition period: early March to early June 2009
  • Negotiation period: mid-August to late September 2009
Submission Required
  • Stage 1: An expression of interest
  • Stage 2: A design contest (limited to seven A0 panels, we submitted 6)
  • Stage 3: 2 finalists were asked to advance their initial designs before the final selection was made
  • Stage 4: A negotiation
Announcement: October 2009
Number of Entries: 10 (teams invited following the expression of interest)


Jury Numbers: 8
Jury Composition
  • With a deliberative role:
    • Ulrik Winge, Urban Design Dept., Technical & Environmental Administration, City of Copenhagen, jury chair
    • Kristian Nabe-Nielsen, Construction & Tenders Dept., Technical & Environmental Administration, City of Copenhagen
    • Jan Christiansen, Urban Design Dept., Technical & Environmental Administration, City of Copenhagen
    • Anne Skovbro, Urban Development Dept., Financial Administration, City of Copenhagen
    • Ulla Lunn, architect, A P Møller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller Foundation
    • Henrik Tvarnø, Director A P Møller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller Foundation
    • Erik Reitzel, consulting engineer, design professional appointed by the Architects' Association of Denmark
    • Jan Søndergaard, architect, design
  • With a consultative role:
    • Mads Møller, C F Møller Architects
    • Lisbet Østrup, Technical & Environmental Administration, City of Copenhagen
    • Erik Hejbøl Sørensen, Technical & Environmental Administration, City of Copenhagen
    • Jonas Gammelgaard, Technical & Environmental Administration, City of Copenhagen
    • Jakob Keinicke Sørensen, Urban Development Dept., City of Copenhagen
Number Shortlisted
  • 10 from the expression of interest,
  • then 2 were in the finals for the main bridge, and a
  • separate 2 for the two smaller bridges
Winner: Flint & Neill Ltd, Studio Bednarski Ltd. Architecture, Hardesty & Hanover International
Runners Up: Rambøll Danmark A/S og 3XN A/S
Prizes & Awards: No prizes, but DKK 225,000, excl. of VAT, paid to all participants (€30,210)
Conclusion of Process: Construction design commission
Project Completion: August 2016: Formally opened for public use.


Inderhavnen (inner harbour) bridge video:
Post declaration of the winner there was an extensive public campaign, involving documentary films with interviews of the winners, lectures, and an exhibition including a mechanical working scale model of the bridge, now housed in the Museum of Copenhagen.
figure 3.7 View of the completed Inderhanvnen bridge
figure 3.7
View of the completed Inderhavnen bridge

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