Civil Engineering 1995

New Macau-Taipa Bridge
Eng. José Câncio Martins

Further information

In 1995, Secil launched the first edition of the Secil Civil Engineering Award. It was the first organisation to sponsor a prize in Civil Engineering in Portugal.

Just like the Secil Architecture Award, this prize enjoyed the Patronage of the President of the Republic, adding to the prestige attributed to the first and the subsequent editions of the prize leading to works of high quality being entered into the competition.

It was also an initiative welcomed with great enthusiasm in its milieu, prompting the Chairman of the Engineers’ Association to say, “… the institution of the Secil Civil Engineering Award, aimed at distinguishing solutions in the field of the use of structural concrete designed exclusively by Portuguese civil engineers, is a most important event for the profession.”

The designer honoured this year was Engineer Câncio Martins, for his project for the New Macau-Taipa Bridge. This project arose from the need to create a faster connection between Macau and Taipa, since the old Nobre de Carvalho Bridge was no longer suitable due to the excess of traffic.

The new bridge, however, in the opinion of Rosado Catarino, passed the “…most difficult test: the confrontation with the Nobre de Carvalho Bridge, a symbol of Macau. However, he goes on, “Influenced by the climate of this territory, the bridges managed to coexist. They represent two generations of Portuguese engineering. (…) They will go down in history… they are works of art.”

José Luís Faria Câncio Martins was born on 13 March 1936, in Sintra. He graduated in Civil Engineering from the Instituto Superior Técnico, completing his course in 1959 with a final grade of 15/20.

He began his professional career in June 1960 in the Delegation of the Directorate of Air Force Infrastructure Services in the 2nd Air Region (Angola) as NCO Aerodrome Engineer, in which post he remained until October 1963.

After a professional stint as a freelance, he joined the Directorate General of Civil Aviation in 1965. He remained in this department until 1972 when he tendered his resignation in order to join the Sines Area Office. There he took up the post of Head of Construction in the Works Department of D.G.A.C.

At the Sines Area Office, he held the positions of Head of Projects in the Urban Centre Department and later, until May 1981, of Director of the Project Department, when he was granted unlimited leave.

He is currently a Guest Professor at the Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Coimbra.

As a designer, he has done the designs for dozens of bridges and viaducts for the Junta Autónoma de Estradas (Highways Authority), Brisa – Autoestradas de Portugal, SA, Caminhos de Ferro Portugueses (Portuguese Railways) and the Sines Area Office, as well as other designs for structures for industrial, commercial and housing purposes.

There are also many other projects in his curriculum:

  • Industrial buildings and structures
    • Stand enclosure at the Sporting Clube de Portugal Stadium – 1981
    • Centro Cultural de Belém – Conceptual design for the proposal by Architect Gonçalo Byrne (2nd place) – 1989
    • Estoril Congress Centre – Preliminary design for the proposal by the A.Silva & Silva, Somague, Efacec, Philips Consortium – 1989
    • Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Coimbra
    • IMOCIPAR, Imobiliária, S.A. building
  • Bridges and viaducts
    • Lusianes Viaduct on the EN123 – 1968
    • Railway bridge over the River Douro (Variant design prepared for the competition launched in 1977)
    • Road layout remodelling in the Amoreiras area – Overpasses – 1984
    • International Bridge over the River Guadiana – 1985
    • Cable-stayed bridge with central span of 324 metres
    • Viana do Castelo bridge (variant design) – 1988
    • Continuous deck with a length of 2,180m, possibly constituting the largest piece of monolithic concrete in the world. · Water outlet access bridge at the Apartadura Dam (Variant Design) – 1st bridge built in Portugal by the “push” process – 1989
    • Bridge between Macau and Taipa Island – 1989
    • Bridge over the River Tagus in Santarém and immediate accesses – 1994

He is a member of the following associations/organisations:

  • Engineers’ Association
  • American Concrete Institute
  • Portuguese Prestressed Group
  • Portuguese Association of Experimental Stress Analysis (founder member)
  • Member of the Bridges Committee of the Fédération Internationale de la Précontrainte (FIP)

In the design of any bridge, but particularly in the New Macau-Taipa Bridge project, due to its size and location, there are three fundamental objectives that the designer has to meet. These are Efficiency, Economy and Elegance. Efficiency has to do with the security that the bridge should offer to support the loads planned and the ability to function, being essentially an engineering problem.

The search for the most economical solution is another very important aspect and should be seen in the broader context of the life of the bridge, encompassing, therefore, not only the construction costs but also the maintenance costs.

While the Efficiency and Economy of the solution are extremely important, they should not, however, be decisive in the choice. Indeed, what we design and build should reflect not only our skills but also take into account the community and the environment. We must not forget that the bridge will last for decades and for this reason the designer has the responsibility and the duty to produce a visually pleasing bridge for most people, and at a reasonable cost.

In a design & build competition, the economic factor – whether you like it or not – always has a very strong influence on the decision, although in the case of the Macau-Taipa Bridge, the aesthetic aspects were a concern for the Bridge Office which valued them, an unusual practice deserving of praise.

Without minimising the concerns about meeting the Efficiency and Aesthetic aspects, we cannot deny that the Economic aspect has been paid special attention. The lack of available areas for the installation of construction sites of a size that a project of this dimension would require, coupled with the advantages that stemmed from the use of existing prefabrication sites in China with overcapacity, well located and with very competitive production and transportation costs, led us to opt deliberately for a structural solution that would make the utmost use of prefabrication.

This option proved to be correct, enabling the project to be completed at a barely comparable cost with other works in similar conditions.

Location: Macau

Design: J.L. Câncio Martins

Structure: J.L. Câncio Martins – Projectos de Estruturas, Lda.

Client: Government of Macau

Contractor: Construções Técnicas, S.A.; Teixeira Duarte, S.A.

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