A New Footbridge In London Opens Like A 70-Foot Fan

footbridge1Edward Sumner Courtesy of Knight ArchitectsThe footbridge open, showing the steel beams in its fan shape.

London's canal ways are a little more artistic with the recent opening of the Merchant Square footbridge.

Stretching over the Paddington Basin and located in the district of the same name, the bridge is designed by Knight Architects as a part of the Merchant Square redevelopment.

Six days out of the week, the footbridge is merely that, allowing pedestrians to cross the murky canal ways without so much as getting their Wellingtons wet.

footbridge3Edward Sumner Courtesy of Knight ArchitectsThe footbridge closed to allow pedestrians to walk across its span.

Every Friday afternoon, however, the bridge reveals its structure and the five steel beams lift upwards toward the sky to create a stunning fan-like effect. The opening also creates plenty of room for boats to pass under and turn around in the basin.

The bridge was designed to be sculptural as well as low maintenance. The beams open in sequence, with the first one opening up to a 70 degree angle. They range in weight from six to seven tons and are balanced out by a 40-ton counterweight made of concrete and steel to ensure the bridge opens and closes smoothly.

The counterweight also provides assistance for the hydraulic mechanism by lessening the amount of energy required to lift the structure.

Knight Architects, the firm behind the bridge, call it a "kinetic sculpture." They won a limited contest to design the bridge in 2012, which called on them to create the bridge at the spot to replace the old one as well as create "visual drama."

It joins another artsy bridge in the neighborhood called the Rolling Bridge that can curl up on itself, creating a mini sculpture park along the basin.
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