CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE LUPU BRIDGE IN SHANGHAI
L J H Ellis
Dept. Civil & Architectural Engineering, University of Bath
Abstract: This article provides a critical analysis of The Lupu Bridge in Shanghai. The bridge is currently the world’s longest spanning steel arch bridge with a span of 550m. The analysis of this report includes sections on aesthetics, loading, structural analysis and construction. The Lupu Bridge is a steel through-tied box-girder arch bridge and it is also the only steel arch bridge in the world to be completely welded.
Keywords: Lupu Bridge, Steel, Arch Bridge, Longest Span, Welding.
Figure 1: View of bridge deck and arches at night. Ref. 
The Lupu Bridge is located in Shanghai, China. It
is currently the seventh crossing to be constructed over
the Huangpu River in the city. The bridge is located in
the south of the city with the aim to ease congestion in
the quickly developing areas around the southern side
of the river and the city centre and also to help with the
increasing traffic expected at the 2010 world Expo.
The venue for this is set to be surrounding the river at
the location of the bridge, so it will not only be a vital
part of the infrastructure for this event, it will also act
as a showpiece for Chinese engineering.
The bridge was officially opened in June 2003 at a
total cost of $302 Million US. On completion the Lupu
Bridge was the largest spanning arch bridge in the
world with a main span of 550m overtaking the New
River Gorge Bridge in the United States by 32m. This
record is set to be broken in 2008 by the under
construction Chaotianmen Bridge in China by only 2m.
The total length of the bridge is 3,900m including the
approach bridges on either side of the river.
The bridge was originally heavily criticised as it
was seen as wasteful by many people in respect to the
type of bridge that was actually needed for the project.
Many feel that it is just a show piece for the city and
the price tag reflected that status. Other designs were
proposed that would have been more economical but
were rejected in favour of the tied arch design.
The Lupu Bridge is a steel box section throughtied arch bridge. The central span of the deck is
suspended from two sets of 28 double cables attached
to the two inclined arches.
The ground conditions on either side of the bridge
are not suitable for the large thrusts that would be
caused by a normal arch bridge and this is what lead to
the decision of using a through tied arch which will be
discussed further later in this paper.
Below are two elevations of the bridge, the side
profile and a view looking longitudinally along the
deck. Beneath these drawings is a plan view of the
bridge. (Fig. 2)
Figure 2: Plan and two elevations. Ref. 
When considering the aesthetic qualities of a
bridge, Fritz Leonhardt’s criteria for assessing the
bridges attributes is commonly used as a guideline. He
details ten rules that a bridge should adhere to if it is to be considered beautiful. The analysis of the aesthetics
of the Lupu Bridge is to be carried out with these ten
rules in mind.
There should be a balance between the sizes and
shapes within the bridge structure. In the main span of
the Lupu Bridge this is achieved through the relative
sizes of the large section arches and the relatively thin
The spacing between the cables of the mid span
also seem to be in proportion with the spacing of the
column supports at the side spans taking into account
the relative increase in size from the cables to the
The functionality of a bridge should reflect its
apparent ability to successfully achieve the purpose it
was built for. In this case the large sweeping arches
supporting the wide 6 lane deck impart a feeling of
stability whilst maintaining a sense of elegance in the
design. This is shown in Fig. 3...
References: David J. Brown. Octopus Publishing Group Ltd 1993,
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