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The World of Civil Engineering: Types of Bridges

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Turning the Spotlight on Civil Engineering

Civil engineering is a cornerstone of modern society and the foundation of our cities. The profession is concerned with planning, designing, analyzing, constructing and maintaining all kinds of crucial public infrastructure - including roads, bridges, water supply networks, airports, electrical grids, tunnels, sewerage systems, railways and public buildings, to name but a few. That is why civil engineers play a major role in the development of nations. Without them modern society as we know it would not exist, and to make sure it continues to exist we need these highly skilled professionals to keep it up to tackle the challenges of tomorrow, like adapting our infrastructure to the effects of climate change.

The Foundation of LEGO City

Despite their vital contributions to society, civil engineers' work still often goes unnoticed. For that reason "The World of Civil Engineering: Types of Bridges" now turns the spotlight on them and their profession, starring a male and a female civil engineer as the model's minifigures (representing all the civil engineers out there around the world). While the popular LEGO Architecture theme has been celebrating the world of architecture and famous architects for many years already, it's about time to similarly pay tribute to civil engineers. After all, civil engineering is not only the foundation of our real-life cities, but of any LEGO City layout as well.

The Idea

"The World of Civil Engineering: Types of Bridges" is a display set focusing on one sub-discipline of civil engineering, showing fictitious examples of the 7 main types of bridges, possibly inspiring LEGO fans for bridge building in their own LEGO City layouts. In real life civil engineers specializing in the structural design and analysis of bridges and any other civil engineering structures are called structural engineers. They make sure structures are useful, stable and safe to stand the test of time.

Bridges are an essential part of our infrastructure because they span obstructions that would otherwise be very difficult or impossible to overcome - like rivers, valleys, roads or railroad tracks. Which bridge design will be chosen for a particular purpose depends on factors like the bridge's intended function, the terrain it will be built on, the expected frequency of traffic crossing the bridge, weather conditions, the available time for construction, the available budget and many other factors. 

The Model

While there's a great variety of bridge designs, 7 main (structure) types of bridges can be distinguished. The model introduces these 7 main types, showcasing fictitious examples in different suitable scales so that all types can be displayed together in one set:

  • Tied-Arch Bridge
The model depicts a tied-arch rail bridge over a highway. A high-speed train is going across.

  • Cable-Stayed Bridge
Single-tower cable-stayed road bridge with a single line of harp-design rigging connected to the center of the deck. Only this LEGO version of the bridge can be rotated 360 degrees for display purposes, whereas the real bridge cannot be rotated.

  • Truss Bridge
Old lattice truss bridge for the overground metro. Since the bridge deck is on the top, this truss type is called deck truss. The model showcases only one span of the entire bridge at which the metro is going across a public walkway. Civil engineers' structural health monitoring is showing that despite its age the bridge is still in good shape - it will most likely see many more years of service.

  • Cantilever Bridge (under construction)
Balanced cantilever bridge design. A form traveler system for segmental construction with cast-in-situ concrete is being used for building the deck in both directions away from the tower simultaneously. The model depicts the construction process on only one of the bridge structure's several piers whose decks are being built approaching one another bit by bit to eventually get connected. The crane is lifting a concrete bucket and can be rotated 360 degrees for display/play purposes.

  • Beam Bridge
The model depicts one span of a multi-span beam bridge that carries a two-lane highway over a valley.

  • Suspension Bridge
Self-anchored suspension bridge for automobile traffic. A container ship is passing underneath.

  • Arch Bridge
Historic deck arch bridge made of stone. When this small old pedestrian bridge had reached a structurally unsafe state, civil engineers joined an interdisciplinary team that carefully rehabilitated the historically valuable structure, so it can now be safely used again.

Features of the Model:

  • Decorative and educational display set introducing the 7 main types of bridges
  • Allows different setups and combinations for the 7 mini builds (semi-circle, circle, straight line etc.)
  • Mini builds can be disconnected from each other to be displayed separately
  • The cable-stayed bridge can be rotated 360 degrees for display purposes (unlike the real bridge)
  • The crane on the construction site can be rotated 360 degrees for display/play purposes
  • Measurements: 61 x 28 x 18 cm (approximate W x D x H of the main image's standard semi-circle setup)
  • Mass: 1422 g
  • Features 2 minifigures: 1 male civil engineer & 1 female civil engineer
  • Total part count: 1602 (including the figures' pieces) 

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