Inner Harbour Bridge, Copenhagen


Photo Credit: COWI, Studio Bednarski

Project Data:


Copenhagen Municipality


Copenhagen Harbour

Service Dates:

2009 - 2016


Conceptual design, detailed design, construction support

Design Team:

COWI (Flint & Neill), Studio Bednarski, Hardesty & Hanover (M&E), Speirs and Major (lighting)


Pihl & Søn then Valmont A/S, Vistal, SH Group

Project Description:

This 250m long opening bridge crosses the busy inner harbour in the centre of Copenhagen, linking the developing residential and business areas on the island of Amager with the city centre. It carries pedestrians and cyclists, and is already extremely busy, especially at morning and evening peak times.

The bridge has a unique retracting mechanism in which the opening sections slide back between the fixed approach spans to create a 50m clear navigation opening. This mechanism avoids the ugly visual intrusion of open bascule spans and the navigation disruption of most swing bridges. It also minimises energy requirements on opening and closing. The arrangement also allows pedestrians to enjoy standing almost within touching distance of ships as they pass by when the bridge is open.

The 230T moving steel spans have an unusual W-shaped cross section and a variable depth to suit their cantilevering behaviour in service. A large wheel on the centreline provides the front support to each span as it rolls back and forth, and a pair of rollers which run in stainless steel tracks set into the sides of the concrete approach spans on each side provide the rear support. The spans are driven forwards and backwards by electric motors housed in chambers underneath the quaysides at each end of the bridge.

The bridge encountered some difficulties during construction, not least due to the main contractor going bankrupt part way through, but after some delays it opened in August 2016 and is a popular destination in the city as well as a much needed and very busy harbour crossing.


Photo Credit: COWI, Studio Bednarski


Photo Credit: COWI, Studio Bednarski


Photo Credit: COWI, Studio Bednarski


Photo Credit: COWI

Note: The design of this project was carried out while working with COWI (previously Flint & Neill) and it is illustrated here with permission.