British firm Knight Architects and structural engineers AKT II have completed a moving footbridge in Paddington, London, that opens and closes like the blades of a traditional hand-held fan.
Consisting of five steel beams that rise and fall using hydraulic jacks, Merchant Square footbridge by Knight Architects and AKT II spans a 20-metre width of the Grand Union Canal in Paddington Basin, close to Thomas Heatherwick’s Rolling Bridge that curls into a ball.
Related story: New images released showing Heatherwick’s Garden Bridge across the Thames
The architects, who specialise in bridge design, won a limited competition to design the crossing in 2012 with their plans for a “kinetic sculpture” that could rise to allow canal boats to pass along the waterway.
Opening in sequence, the bridge’s five beams rise to different angles to create a fan-like effect. The first rises to 70 degrees, while the last lifts high enough to create a clearance space of two and a half metres over the surface of the canal. The weight of the beams – which range from six to seven tons – is balanced by a 40 ton counterweight that keeps the beams steady as they rise and fall.
When fully closed, the bridge is safe for pedestrians and offers a three metre wide crossing.
“Shaped counterweights assist the hydraulic mechanism and reduce the energy required to move the structure,” explained the architects and engineers in a statement.
“The bridge balustrades are formed from twin rows of inclined stainless steel rods, overlapping to form a robust yet filigree and highly transparent structure.”
The handrail formed by these balustrades features a built-in strip of LED lighting to illuminate the crossing at night. Like Heatherwick’s bridge, the structure opens every Friday to let boats sail past.
The bridge is part of a wider regeneration project for the site, with future plans including a garden square with an events space and water maze. A total of six new buildings will be constructed, with three already complete.
This apostrophe-shaped bridge in Hull, England, by London architects McDowell+Benedetti features a rotating mechanism so it can swing open to make room for passing boats.