British firm Knight Architects and structural engineers AKT II have completed the Merchant Square footbridge, a moving bridge in Paddington, London, that opens and closes 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.