Located in southern France, Millau Viaduct was designed in close collaboration with structural engineers. The success of its completion illustrates how architect can play an integral role in the design of bridges. In addition, it contradicts the assumption that bridges are belong to the territory of engineer rather than that of architect.
Millau Viaduct connects the landline between France and Spain, opening up a direct route for the two countries. The bridge extends over the River Tarn, challenging the 2.46 kilometers from one plateau to the other in a considerable economical manner. In other words, it was what had suggested the most appropriate structural solution.
Millau Viaduct follows the Millennium Bridge over the River Thames, in expressing a fascination with the relationships between function, technology and aesthetics in a graceful structural form. The tapered form of the columns both expresses their structural loads and minimizes their profile in elevation. Each of its sections spans 342 meters and its columns range in height from 75 meters to 245 meters (equivalent to the height of the Eiffel Tower), with the masts rising a further 90 meters above the road deck.
While making the minimum intervention in the landscape, the Viaduct traces a slender ribbon of light across the valley.
Foster + Partners, Architects
Client: French Ministry of Equipment, Transport, Housing, Tourism and Sea
Consultants: EEG (Europe Etudes Gecti), Sogelerg, SERF, Agence TER, Michel Virlogeux
photograph © Nick Weall