Often, bridges are used to take humans across nature. They cross forests, lakes, rivers, gorges and natural areas where the bridge cuts through. These structures are typically a steel or concrete design. But the Bara Bridge, designed by Sam Crawford Architects, is different.

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Lengthwise view of the bridge

The Bara Bridge is a pedestrian and cycle bridge in Sydney, Australia. The architects behind the innovative design took their inspiration from the bara eel, which is an aquatic life form that migrates to the Pacific Ocean every year from the Centennial Parklands’ pond. The shape, color and design structure of the bridge were all informed by the movements of this animal.

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Upper view of the bridge with pedestrians

What’s more, the eel that inspired this design is a big figure in the local tradition in the region. The eels migrate from the ponds into drains and canals to find their way to Botany Bay.

Cyclists enjoying the bridge

As for the bridge design, different colored pieces of anodized aluminum were used to frame the bridge. This then mimics the look of the eels, which swim in lateral motions as they move through the water. Also, the different colors of the aluminum create a shimmering effect.

Aerial view of the bridge and path it connects to

In addition, the bridge is about 130 feet long, or 40 meters, and crosses over a pond. The bridge also invites you to stop and take a look at the bird life and surrounding scenery, which includes native grasses.

Underneath the eel-like bridge

The materials to construct the bridge were picked with care to be low-maintenance, high-durability and 100% recyclable. Additionally, wood from the local spotted gum was used for the handrails. Sandstone was used for the paving blocks and retaining blocks.

More pedestrians walking along the bridge

The deck itself is fiberglass-reinforced plastic mesh, while the superstructure of the bridge is 100% recyclable painted steel. Everything was assembled offsite and then reassembled to minimize waste.

Bara Bridge is a beautiful example of how nature can influence and inform design, taking common concepts and turning them into something much more beautiful and awe-inspiring instead.

+ Sam Crawford Architects

Images via Sam Crawford Architects