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Millau Bridge


Nick DanzigerNick Danziger
The award winning photo journalist, Nick Danziger, travelled to southern France to visit the engineering marvel - The Millau Viaduct.

The world's tallest bridge officially opens in France today. It's been designed by British architect Norman Foster. Caroline Wyatt is there.
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The Millau Bridge

The Millau Bridge
Click here to see the exclusive photographs of Lord Foster and his team as they work on the Millau Viaduct.

Nick Danziger has been exploring the relationship between Britain and France in the anniversary year of the Entente Cordiale. In this collection of photographs he followed the British architect Sir Norman Foster as he designed and constructed a bridge to cross the Millau Valley in France.

The Bridge

The Millau Viaduct is an incredible feat of engineering. The structure measures nearly 2460 metres long and was built with more than 36,000 tonnes of metal framework (which is five times the amount used on the Eiffel Tower). In addition to being extremely long, the bridge is extremely high (the tallest tower measures 343 metres - compared to the Eiffel Tower which comes in at 324 metres).

Nick Danziger's 'A view from a Bridge'.

"The most amazing thing about the bridge is although it is the world's tallest, it is just a slither across the landscape, a world class feat of engineering. It seems weightless. The area is a very beautiful part of the world and they have managed to keep it that way.

The valley at the the bottom used to be France's worst bottleneck, with it taking some two to three hours to get from one side of the valley to the other."

Did the British and French work well together?

"The whole project was managed by British architects and engineers, with French construction workers. They understood each other.

The great thing about the bridge is it's a universal bridge, it's a gift to France but everyone should benefit from it.

There is a however a danger, it could become of victim of its own success. The land below is wild and there are worries that it could become ruined by people wanting to build on it - there's already a visitor centre underneath."

The Architect

The British architect Lord Norman Foster of Thamesbank has worked in many countries around the world. He is no stranger to large constructions. He designed Europe's tallest tower - the Commerzbank headquarters in Frankfurt (850 ft) and the Al Faisaliah Centre in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (876 ft).

Controversial Bridge?

Many of the worlds tallest buildings are housed in the United States, Middle Eastern cities, and commercial centres in South East Asia. Although France does have the historic Eiffel Tower, the French are not traditionally renowned for their love of 'le skyscraper'. 

Lord Foster was pleased with the reception he received to the bridge; "It was controversial in the sense that in the beginning there was a division in the community." However over time, the local people realised the sheer size of the project was pulling in the tourists; "I think there is a rather delighted surprise that it has attracted so many visitors just during construction and its proved to be a big attraction as well as a wonderfully civilised route to connect France and Spain and the whole European network of roads." 

Lord Foster particularly enjoyed working on this project and was enthusiastic about the input he had from the French team. And was he pleased with his finished product? "I think the bridge is a fusion of the forces of nature and extraordinary engineering expertise and of a team working together."

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