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Competition: A Bridge Over Troubled Water

The Paris School of Architecture has launched an international ideas contest for a 33km bridge connecting the UK with France (Deadline: 31 May)

Open to architects, students and recent graduates in teams of up to five members, the competition seeks proposals for a new permanent road bridge spanning the Strait of Dover.

The call for ideas comes shortly after UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson proposed a UK-France crossing during an Anglo-French summit. The contentious proposal has been estimated to cost hundreds of billions of pounds andwould be an enormous technical challenge to construct while keeping the world’s busiest shipping lane open.

English Channel

English Channel

Source: Image by Nasa Visible Earth

English Channel

According to the brief: ‘As part of our 2017/18 research theme discussing the infrastructural implications of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, the school has launched an international architecture competition for a fixed, above ground link connecting France with the UK.

‘Within the context of the UK’s departure from the EU in March 2019, can a potential link between the island and continental Europe usher in a new era of cross-channel co-operation and free-trade, or is it simply another grand project folly to divert from the real and perhaps insurmountable issues involved in untangling the UK from decades of EU integration?’

The Paris School of Architecture is a new university, focusing on emerging professional requirements and preparing undergraduates and postgraduates for work in practice. It will open for its first intake of students in September.

The Dover Strait – the narrowest point between England and France – has been at the centre of maritime trade between the countries for millennia.

French engineer Albert Mathieu proposed the first tunnel connecting England and France, while plans for a new bridge were mooted in 1889 and again in 1981. The channel tunnel rail link was eventually completed in 1994, used by both passenger trains and shuttle connections for vehicles.

Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge

Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge

Source: Image by Wing1990hk

Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge

The competition seeks proposals for a bridge connecting Dover with Calais, or another similar route. Similar large bridges include the 55km-long Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge which is due to open later this year. 

The call for ideas follows an earlier contest held by the school which sought ideas for a Brexit Monument at either or both ends of the Eurotunnel rail link at Calais and Folkestone. The winning scheme by Designers Anonymous proposed applying a colour or paint to the surface below the railway line that gradually blurs between the colours of the EU passport burgundy and the (soon-to-be) blue British passport.

Submissions to the latest contest may be in English or French and must include a single A1-sized digital board no larger than 20mb. The overall winner will receive a €2,000 prize and all submitted entries will feature in an exhibition at the school in September.

How to apply


The deadline for submissions is 31 May


Early registration from 20 February to 20 March: €22.50
Regular registration from 21 March to 21 April: €32.50
Late registration from 22 April to 31 May: €50.00

Contact details

Paris School of Architecture
Cité Germain Pilon
75018 Paris

Tel: + 33 9 70 40 64 67

Visit the competition website for more information

Kruunusillat case study: Q&A with Martin Knight

The managing director of Knight Architects discusses lessons learned designing Finland’s longest bridge

How will your Kruunusillat project deliver Finland’s longest bridge spanning the bay of Helsinki?

This will be a bridge for 200 years and the design must be beautiful, memorable and lasting. It should represent the best of contemporary Finnish design as well as the nation’s rich cultural history. It must contribute to a strong sense of place and stand in harmony with its maritime setting, spanning lightly and elegantly across the water.

Kruunusillat by Knight Architects with WSP Finland

Kruunusillat by Knight Architects with WSP Finland

Kruunusillat by Knight Architects with WSP Finland

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

The distinctive central tower stands in counterpoint to the low-lying landscape, creating a dialogue with the other tall structures visible around Helsinki and giving a clear reference point for citizens to locate the crossing. The form of the 135m tower is a tall slender diamond; a reference to the historic crown ownership of the bay area, with multifaceted surfaces designed to catch light and shadow by day and night.

Kruunusillat by Knight Architects with WSP Finland

Kruunusillat by Knight Architects with WSP Finland

Kruunusillat by Knight Architects with WSP Finland

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing a UK-France road bridge?

The bridge must address two primary conditions: the ‘view of’ and the ‘view from’. The first is the image of the bridge, as it appears in print, film, social media, people’s memories; the second is the user experience. Indivisibly bound, these define what the design should be and how successful the bridge will be in addressing a range of functions, from transport connection to political identity.

Kruunusillat by Knight Architects with WSP Finland

Kruunusillat by Knight Architects with WSP Finland

Kruunusillat by Knight Architects with WSP Finland