Wilkinson Eyre spans Copenhagen’s Inner Harbour with a twisting, opening pedestrian and cycle bridge


Rasmus Hjortshøj

Spanning 160 metres across Copenhagen’s Inner Harbour, the Lille Langebro cycle and pedestrian bridge curves in both plan and section to link existing streets on opposite banks, and opens to allow the passage of boats. London-based Wilkinson Eyre Architects won a design competition for the project organised by the Realdania By & Byg, a subsidiary of the well-resourced Realdania Foundation, which supports built environment projects in the country – and whose own recently complete, OMA-designed BLOX building, housing the Danish Architecture Centre, lies close by. The foundation has subsequently gifted the bridge to the municipality of Copenhagen.


“Three key ideas characterise the concept and identity”, says the architect. “First, the bridge follows an elegant curve in plan which aligns with and evokes the great arc of ramparts and moat of Christianshavn, otherwise not apparent when viewed from the city. Second, the structure is arranged as two wings on the sides of the bridge defining a very acute edge dividing light from shade. This edge dips below the decks at the abutments and soars up above the deck at midspan creating a further elegant line. Thirdly, and unexpectedly, the graceful curved profile of the bridge only becomes broken when the two swinging sections open for marine traffic”.


At mid-span the structure is higher than at the quaysides to allow for the required 5.4-metre navigation clearance for boats. Together with the curved alignment and raised ‘wings’, this “has the effect of a gradual reveal of what is ahead for those crossing”, says the architect.

The opening mechanisms, developed by Wilkinson Eyre in collaboration with engineer BuroHappold, are concealed in the piers and in the opening structure, allowing the flowing line of the bridge to run uninterrupted from end-to-end.

Split into five spans, with two 28-metre parts either side of the 48-metre main section, Lille Langebro has a minimum clear width of seven metres, offering a three-metre-wide zone for pedestrians and a four-metre-wide, two-lane zone cyclists.

Additional Images


Structural engineer
Geotechnical engineer
M&E engineer
Eadon Consulting
Landscape architect
Urban Agency
Lighting Consultant
Speirs and Major
Realdania By & Byg