King Charles officially opens Moxon’s latest bridge project
Moxon Architects, in collaboration with civil and structural engineers Arcadis, has successfully completed the construction of the Gairnshiel Jubilee Bridge in rural Aberdeenshire, located in the eastern part of the Cairngorms National Park.
The bridge, named in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022, was officially opened to the public on Thursday, 5th October 2023 by King Charles. The new crossing serves the dual purpose of diverting highway traffic away from the historic Category A-listed Gairnshiel Bridge, a partly military structure dating back to 1749, while also establishing a north-south link between Deeside and Speyside.
The Gairnshiel Bridge, constructed in 1749, had become inadequate for modern traffic requirements, despite the implementation of weight restrictions in 2016. Its narrow width and challenging approach led to frequent bridge strikes, causing substantial structural damage and disruptive road closures. To address these issues and enhance access across the River Gairn, the new bridge features two traffic lanes and can accommodate large goods vehicles, eliminating the need for detours due to bridge damage. A single span was considered the most appropriate design due to the river’s flooding patterns.
The bridge has been constructed using durable materials such as locally sourced granite for the parapets and embankments and weathering steel for the primary structure. The granite parapets are intended to echo the materials used in the existing 18th century bridge. Over time, it is hoped that the weathering steel will develop a muted, dark brown colour, softening its appearance within its the surroundings.
Ben Addy, Managing Director of Moxon Architects said, “After years of advocacy and consultations with historic bodies and the local community, we are pleased to have completed the Gairnshiel Jubilee Bridge. The new crossing is a simple, but confident companion to the original 18th-century masterpiece of military engineering.
“As well as being a practical solution, our design is rooted in the immediate context of the Cairngorms and reflects the elegant form of the original structure a short distance down the glen, which we are glad to have helped preserve for future generations.”
Donald MacPherson, Bridges Manager at Aberdeenshire Council, welcomed the bridge’s completion, stating, “Yesterday’s unveiling of the Gairnshiel Jubilee Bridge by His Majesty The King was a momentous occasion for us as a council as it formally marks the completion of one of the biggest and most expensive infrastructure projects we have ever undertaken.
“This magnificent new structure will not only improve journey times but will ensure local residents and visitors alike can continue to enjoy the delights the area has to offer.”
In addition to providing a new vehicular route, the bridge has been designed to safeguard and celebrate the original Gairnshiel Bridge. The 18th-century bridge will now serve exclusively for pedestrian, cyclist, and equestrian use. Due to the site’s sensitive nature, the project team engaged in years of consultation with the local community and heritage bodies prior to commencing the design process.
Location: Glen Gairn, Aberdeenshire
Client: Aberdeenshire Council
Architect: Moxon Architects Ltd
Structural Engineer: Arcadis
Main Contractor: Wills Brothers
Steelwork sub-contractor: J&D Pierce