Bridge, Municipal Hospital
In emergencies, speed is critical; every second saved on shorter routes can make a difference.
  • Location
    Karlsruhe
  • Project
    Construction of a bridge
  • Procedure
    1st prize competition
  • Client
    Städtisches Klinikum Karlsruhe
  • Architect of record
    Caspar Schmitz-Morkramer
  • Structural planning
    Werner Sobek Ingenieure
  • Planning and construction period
    2021–2024
  • Service phases
    1–8
  • Gross floor area
    200 m²
  • Visualizations and Photos
    caspar.

Sometimes, it’s crucial for things to operate swiftly and effortlessly. That’s why Karlsruhe Municipal Hospital is planning a new helipad and connecting bridge between the landing site, hospital, and Helios Clinic across the road. In summer 2020, we collaborated with Werner Sobek on the bridge design competition, impressing with our aesthetics and high functionality. With a gentle curve, the bridge spans the four lanes of traffic on Franz-Lust-Strasse and the streetcar track in the middle. On each side of the street, forked columns with wide cantilevers blend into the avenue of plane trees; an additional column stands before the helipad. Atop these columns lies a white truss box girder, illuminated at night, gently curving in an ideal S-shape for safe and efficient crossing. The contemporary, dynamic bridge design integrates seamlessly into the urban fabric rather than appearing out of place, presenting as a vital link joining the two hospitals within the busy traffic area.

Bridging helipad and hospital

The 80-meter-long bridge connects at the second-floor level above the main entrance to the Helios Clinic, crossing the street at the same level. On the hospital side, it directly connects to the staircase and elevator tower of the free-standing helipad, with an additional arm providing direct access to the hospital’s emergency unit. Wide cantilevers on the tubular steel fork supports eliminate the need for supports over the road and rail areas. Steel construction enables a slender, cost-effective, and durable superstructure design. Its slightly curved flanks consist of lattice girders with slim posts and diagonals, with upper and lower chord bracing to ensure the necessary horizontal rigidity. After erecting the staircase core on the helipad and the fork supports, the superstructure is assembled in segments. The four prefabricated elements, ranging from 19 to 25 meters long, are delivered to site as heavy loads for immediate installation.

Every day, every night

The open facade consists of white lacquered expanded metal panels with varied perforations. These openings are smaller at the top and bottom, widening towards the center to balance patient privacy with ample natural light for the crossing. The facade’s transparency varies with the lighting conditions. During the day, it appears as a white band, while at night, its construction and traffic are subtly visible, illuminated by internal lighting and passing car headlights reflecting off the bridge. Nevertheless, ensuring smooth patient transport is the primary focus, with a clear passage width and height of 2.50 meters maintained throughout, widening at the helipad access tower junction to facilitate maneuvering transport beds. Impact protection and handrails line the doors and structural elements. Our design emphasizes minimalism and precision, with the open construction serving its practical purpose. There is no embellishment, only functional aesthetics arising from the acute awareness of critical round-the-clock operations.

Project team