The University of Bristol posed the
question “How do you bridge the gap?” to inspire entries
to the Clifton Crossing Competition (CC06), supporting the rerun of
the original 1831 Clifton crossing competition. It was run as one of
the many events celebrating the 200th birthday of Isambard Kingdom
The Clifton Crossing Competition was an outstanding public awareness success. Although originally conceived as an event local to Bristol and the West Country, thanks to the strong support of New Civil Engineer magazine the competition drew interest and entries from around the world. There were 123 entries from professional design teams and individuals, 26 student team entries, 10 entries from the general public, and 840 entries from school pupils aged 3 to 18 from 50 schools in the UK, Canada and Uruguay! The oldest entrant was an 80-year old retired engineer. The designs ranged form very advanced structural concepts using the latest materials and architectural thinking (e.g. a bridge containing shops and living accommodation) through to pure fantasy, such as a powered airship transporter. It is clear that all the entrants had a lot of fun in preparing their designs.
The adult short listed entries were on public display at the At-Bristol Science Learning Centre, where visitors were able to register their views and preferences electronically. The public vote swayed the judges’ final decision. Between 16 June and 1 November 2006 75,066 people visited At-Bristol and would have seen the display. In addition, thanks to the sponsorship of Atkins, a selection of the schools entries was displayed at the major Civils 2006 construction industry exhibition in Olympia in November 2006. This display is being reworked for showing at Science Learning Centres across the UK from summer 2007.
Thanks to Brunel 200, the competition captured the imagination of professionals, the general public and young people. It gathered its own momentum and featured on local, national, and international media. In doing so, it promulgated the celebrations of Brunel’s achievements to a very wide audience and hopefully inspired many young people to seek to emulate him.
CC06 received positive comments and feedback from teachers and students alike, but for Professor Colin Taylor, perhaps the most rewarding feedback was witnessing a young, very articulate and enthusiastic entrant, aged 5 years and 11 months (!), being interviewed about his fantastically imaginative design by BBC Points West TV – for Taylor, “this epitomised the connections between young people and Brunel that we had hoped the competition would enable”.
Being part of the wider Brunel 200 celebrations gave the project a much wider impact, as Professor Taylor explained:
Click on the link below to see the winning entries and for more information on the competition.