In 1996 Southwark Council in conjunction with the Financial Times and the Royal Institute of British Architects organized a competition for the design of a new bridge across the Thames. The event was won by the dazzling “blade of light” design envisioned by Arup (engineers), Foster and Partners (architects) and Sir Anthony Caro (sculptor), and just four years later on June 10th 2000 the Millennium Bridge was opened to the public.
In the days that followed an estimated 80-100,000 people passed over the bridge, causing it to sway because of a phenomenon engineers identified as Synchronous Lateral Excitation. The large amount of people crossing over the bridge was generating a sideways movement which in turn was causing the bridge to move. Bemused visitors quickly nicknamed it the “Wobbly Bridge” and just two days after its opening the Millennium Bridge was shut to enable investigations to take place. By installing damping mechanisms engineers were able to combat the problem and in 2002 the bridge was reopened.
Crossing over the River Thames the bridge links the City of London at St Pauls Cathedral with the Tate Modern Gallery at Bankside, and is located between Southwark Bridge and Blackfriars Railway Bridge. Stretching a total of 325m the shallow suspension structure of the Millennium Bridge is a key example of the minimal design which allows pedestrians a staggering view of London. It is the first new bridge across the River Thames in Central London for over 100 years, the last being Tower Bridge in 1894. Construction of the Millennium Bridge is said to have cost over 18 million pounds.