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Monday, 14 October, 2002, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
Top award for landmark bridge
Gateshead Millennium Bridge
The Gateshead Millennium Bridge cost 22m to build
The Gateshead Millennium Bridge has won the RIBA Stirling Prize - one of the UK's most prestigious awards for architecture.

The Tyneside landmark - known as the "Blinking Eye" bridge - was awarded the accolade at a glittering ceremony held at the nearby Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art.

It is hoped the 20,000 award will provide Newcastle and Gateshead with a boost in their joint bid to become European City of Culture in 2008.

Judges at the award ceremony, sponsored by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), praised the "elegant and bold" design by Wilkinson Eyre Architects.


The Stirling Prize is a major cultural award and is obviously fantastic news for our Capital of Culture bid

Neil Rami
Newcastle Gateshead Initiative

Describing the bridge, the judges said: "The idea is eminently simple: a pair of arches - one is the deck, the other supports the deck.

"The whole bridge tilts, undergoing a metamorphosis into a grand arch, in an operation that evokes the slow opening of a huge eye.

"The engineering challenge is immense, the solution innovative, bold and engaging.

"Every aspect of the bridge, from conception and detail through to execution, is simple and incredibly elegant."

'Spectacular structure'

Peter Curran, technical director with Gifford and Partners, who won the contract to build the bridge, said: "It has won a fair few awards, which is tremendous.

"I think the Millennium Bridge itself is such a spectacular structure .

"When anyone sees it they are taken by the awe of this thing, especially when it moves.

"The judges said the decision came right down to the wire, and the bridge was the project that made the hairs on the back of their necks stand up.

"Hopefully this will be a small part in the jigsaw in making sure the Capital of Culture bid is a success."

World class

Neil Rami, Chief Executive Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, said: "The Stirling Prize is a major cultural award and is obviously fantastic news for our Capital of Culture bid.

"Gateshead Millennium Bridge it is just one in a series of developments that will also be of world class quality.

"We hope Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art will be a contender for the Stirling award next year, The Sage Gateshead the year after and The Centre for the Children's Books the year after that."


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02 Sep 02 | England
11 Jun 02 | England
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