The East Bridge
By Jeppe Villadsen, journalist, 2006
The East Bridge
Not surprisingly it has been called Denmark’s answer to the Pyramids. The East Bridge, the elevated bridge across the eastern part of the Great Belt, the so-called, is an impressive piece of architecture in every sense of the word. With its 6,790 metres (nearly 7 kilometre!) it is the second longest suspension bridge in the world. The two pylons rise 254 metres above the surface of the sea, and this makes them the highest man-made points in Denmark. The entire construction is held by an anchor block with a weight of 325,000 tonnes. Even the price of DKK 21.6 billion in 1988 prices for the total bridge and tunnel link can seem staggering. The bridge is Denmark’s largest building project so far.
A water sculpture
And there is more than the size to impress. The bridge proves that large sizes can easily go hand in hand with grace and elegance. The suspension bridge rises like an enormous sculpture between the flat eastern part of Funen and equally flat Zealand. The slim silhouette hovers elegantly above the water surface. The proportions between pylons, the slight curve of the roadway and the enormous cables are in perfect balance when seen from a distance as well as from the bridge itself. The trip across the bridge through the pylons is a dizzying, almost cathedral-like experience - sky, sea, light and bridge form a synthesis.
Denmark became smaller
It took seven years to complete the enormous suspension bridge. New road signs, showing directions to Odense, emerged along the Zealand motorways. And conversely - on Funen, the distance to Copenhagen was suddenly abbreviated to little more than an hour by car or train. Today, the bridge is a symbol of the linking of the Danish island kingdom. Denmark shrank.
Did you know?
When the East Bridge was inaugurated in June 1998, it was beaten on the finish line in the battle to become the world's longest suspension bridge. The Japanese bridge Akashi Kaikyo was completed in April of that year, and with 1991 meters in free span, the East Bridge with just 1624 meters was referred to second place.
The committee's justification
By the Committee for Architecture, 2006
The East Bridge is Denmark’s largest construction project. The elements of the East Bridge are simply and elegantly shaped. The relationship between the pylons, roadway and cabling is beautifully balanced when viewed from the sea and from Zealand, and when travelling across the bridge. The height of the pylons contrasts with the length of the roadway, and the roadway’s slight arc contrasts with the large curvature of the cables. All of the lines come together to form a delightful tension for the observer. The bridge’s line over the belt reinforces the sculptural effect and creates space and introversion for the entire curved shape of the East Bridge.
The east bridge represents a graceful, fully optimised design on an enormous scale. Spacious, scenic, magnificent – politically visionary – a successful combination of form and function and an illustration of collaboration between wise minds.
Two complete arches on the landscape, stretched between two enormous bridge towers, meeting above the ocean’s horizon. The bridge synchronously radiates a kind of robust fragility, and simultaneously fills us with a sense of humanity’s insignificance and greatness.
As you drive between the bridge towers, you experience a cathedral-like piousness and a magnificent harmony between sky, sea, light and the bridge’s own aesthetics in terms of material, colours and details. The bridge symbolises the story of Denmark as an island nation. It suggests new relationships in Danish social and familial patterns, and challenges the regional, historical and cultural differences of the regions in a new era.