London footbridge to raise like a Japanese fan


May 9, 2013

Knight Architects' Merchant Square Bridge raises like a traditional Japanese fan (Image: Knight Architects)

Knight Architects' Merchant Square Bridge raises like a traditional Japanese fan (Image: Knight Architects)

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Bridge specialist Knight Architects has announced that its novel design for a footbridge in Paddington, London is to go ahead. The hydraulic Merchant Square Bridge will raise and lower like a traditional folding Japanese fan.

A footbridge of this size would usually be unremarkable. The 3-meter (9.9-ft) wide bridge crosses London's Grand Union Canal with a span of 20 meters (66 ft). But it's the unusual raising mechanism, which Knight Architects describes as a "kinetic sculpture," that lends the design interest.

The deck of the bridge is comprised of five separate steel beams. When the bridge needs to be raised, these are lifted one at a time, each to a lesser height than the one before it, creating an instantly familiar fanned effect. Though the first beam raises to an angle of 80 degrees, the last only needs to clear a height of 5.5 meters (18 feet) over the middle of the canal. The lifting mechanism is powered by hydraulics, with the assistance of counterweights which reduce the energy required.

At night the deck of the bridge will be illuminated by LEDs embedded into the handrail.

See the video below for a better idea of how it'll look upon completion.

Source: Knight Architects

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life. All articles by James Holloway

Weird bridge, but beautiful. I would like to see it going up and down all the time, to hell with the boat traffic.

Robert Walther

Bridge & mechanical sculpture. 10 Thumbs UP !!!!! !!!!!

Dave B13

For some, a glass is half empty, for others it is half full; to an engineer the glass is twice the size it needs to be...

This bridge, though beautiful, is far more materials intensive and complex than its simple purpose requires. There are other, much simpler, yet equally effective swing or lifting bridges that would do the job as well (or better) whilst being beautiful to the eye- our national (British) canal system has many examples of such bridges.


bergamg ot69, How large is the mechanical footprint of a swing or lifting bridges? Would either fit in the small space designated?

Noel Frothingham

The question is why? There are many smarter, more efficient and often more elegant ways of doing the job. Sure it's cute but, if that's the only reason, it becomes a triumph of style over substance. Form really does follow function.


Is there no engineer involved in the design of this mechanically-powered moving bridge? Or was their role too unimportant to mention?

AKT II is the name of the firm btw.

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