Structural EngineerAKT II
Mechanical, Hydraulic and Electrical EngineerEadon Consulting
Lighting DesignStudio Fractal
Landscape ArchitectsTownshend Landscape Design
Text description provided by the architects. Knight Architects: Merchant Square footbridge Paddington, London London’s newest movable footbridge, at the heart of Merchant Square, the mixed‐use waterfront development at Paddington Basin, has opened to the public this month. Conceived by bridge specialists Knight Architects and structural engineers AKT II following a limited design competition in 2012, the 3m wide cantilevered structure spans 20m across the Grand Union Canal and is raised using hydraulic jacks with an action similar to that of a traditional Japanese hand fan. This creates a kinetic sculpture whose silhouette is both legible and extraordinary and which is well suited to the position next to the canal.
The five fabricated steel beams forming the deck open in sequence, with the first rising to an angle of 70 degrees and the last achieving the required clearance over the canal of 2.5m tall by 5.5m wide at mid channel. Shaped counterweights assist the hydraulic mechanism and reduce the energy required to move the structure. 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 houses a continuous low energy LED downlight which will provide excellent and uniform functional illumination of the walking surface and the edge, as well as offering an attractive lighting feature.
The bridge forms part of the overall regeneration masterplan of Merchant Square that will create a new focus for Paddington based around a new waterside garden square featuring a dedicated event space and water maze. When the whole regeneration project is complete Merchant Square will comprise six buildings. The three remaining buildings include 1 Merchant Square, an iconic 42‐storey skyscraper incorporating apartments and a boutique hotel. In total, Merchant Square will provide over 600 residential units and 500,000 sq ft of office space.
Richard Banks, CEO of European Land, the developer of the Merchant Square scheme, said: “Bridges are a crucial element of the built environment at Merchant Square and, therefore, it was important for the new footbridge crossing the Grand Union Canal to enhance the public realm, not only practically but visually. Knight Architects have achieved this by introducing vertical movement to the design to create a bridge that is highly visible and dramatic.”