Merchant Square Bridge
Jury motivation: It shows a creative relationship between architecture, engeneering and urban design.
The competition-winning design for the replacement opening footbridge at Paddington Basin spans 20m across the Grand Union Canal at the heart of the new waterside Merchant Square development.
The brief called for a piece of architecture that would provide a focal point to an area of waterfront public space that will be opened at least once a week.
The design concept is both simple and spectacular: a 3m wide cantilevering deck is hinged at its north end and is raised using hydraulic jacks with an action similar to that of a Japanese fan.
The aim was to create an elegant, innovative design that utilised proven technologies, resulting in a structure that would have a significant impact on its locality.
The design has been considered in respect to the high quality new architecture and landscape, and from elevated as well as ground level viewpoints.
The five steel beams forming the deck open in sequence and shaped counterweights assist the hydraulic mechanism and reduce the energy required to move the structure.
In motion it is an eye-catching kinetic sculpture which is well suited to the position in Merchant Square. When in its lowered position, the five fingers had to create a flat, almost seamless walking surface.
This meant all members of the design team had to work to a high degree of accuracy to ensure the end result would have a clean finish and be of the highest quality.