Merchant Square Footbridge
Merchant Square, in Paddington, London, is based around a new waterside garden square and will provide over 600 residential units and 500,000 ft² of office space. The brief – set by the development manager European Land & Property Limited – called for a piece of architecture that will provide a focal point to an area of waterfront public space called Sunset Terrace, to be opened at least once a week. This coincides with the routine Friday opening of the nearby “Rolling Bridge” by Heatherwick Studio and the pair of bridges are conceived as a distinctive piece of visual theatre. The replacement bridge will provide local residents, workers and the general public with a safe, accessible and understated canal crossing whilst closed, and a beautiful kinetic sculpture whilst open.
In setting the brief, European Land & Property Limited recognised that bridges are an important component of the built environment – highly visible forms that have a significant impact on their locality and bring connectivity, identity and delight – and that context, composition, scale and function can be juxtaposed with fundamental engineering demands for safety, economy, durability and constructability as the basis for lasting quality. However, in the case of a moving bridge, it is essential that the design of the mechanism is reliable and efficient so that the new crossing adds value to the Merchant Square environment and the maintenance burden is minimised and simplified.