Bridges to Prosperity (B2P) envisions a world where poverty caused by rural isolation no longer exists. They provide isolated communities with access to essential healthcare, education and economic opportunities by building footbridges over impassable rivers, by engaging and working with local communities from start to finish. B2P's approach is to develop sustainable Community Bridge Building programs by training regional engineers (via in-country partner organisations and government agencies) in engineering and organisational techniques, thereby allowing for additional footbridge projects to be completed without direct oversight. This requires all bridge design tools and construction techniques to be simple and locally appropriate.
Arup began working with the charity in 2010, with the objective to produce a simple design tool to support the design and construction of simple suspension footbridges anywhere in the world. Three years later, Arup have produced the “BridgeTOOL” – a design tool and learning resource that enables the rapid design of suspension footbridges, coupled with documentation to both support the construction process and B2P’s training programs worldwide. All of the design assumptions are based on the following key attributes: the bridge must be simple to build and replicable, should use locally sourced or off-the-shelf materials, should minimise cost and ensure safety and longevity.
Together, B2P and Arup will provide access and opportunities to isolated rural communities throughout the world. B2P will identify appropriate communities and locations and Arup will provide the required resources, where possible. This will be developed on an on-going basis.Phil Borowiec, Arup, London
With more than 100,000 communities in need of safe and consistent access to schools, health care centres, and markets, BridgeTOOL will create capacity for Bridges to Prosperity to bring its work to scale, by serving as a design resource for engineers and labourers working in isolated communities throughout the world.
In 2013 and 2014, two Arup teams of 8 and 9 engineers (respectively) used the design tool to design two suspension bridges in rural Rwanda and Panamanian jungle and travelled there to build the bridges with B2P and the local communities. Arup engineers also visited the local universities, and the students expressed a strong desire to collaborate with the young Arup engineers in the future in order to learn more about bridge building. Recently, the bridge in Rwanda won iStructe’s Sustainability Award and received a commendation in the footbridge category.
The B2P-Arup partnership combines the strong drive and passion of both organisations to shape a better world combined with a solid technical and practical expertise. The aim of the partnership is to “shape a better world, one bridge at a time”, by providing footbridges to people that need them.
Boasting a community of more than 100 Arup staff offering their support and time, Arup will continue to provide technical expertise and resources to help better and further Bridges to Prosperity work in developing bridge-building programs around the world. Arup will engage staff to provide innovative advice and solutions, and will provide training to junior members of staff within the firm.
Arup’s Strategic Partnership with B2P will allow for greater support and overlap in all programmatic activities, ranging from the existing technical support to marketing, strategic planning and operational activities.