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A swinging kind of place: A bridge to ride by McDowell + Benedetti.

Photo credits: Timothy Soar.

Tower Bridge in London, completed around 1894, was provided with a high level walkway so that people could continue to cross the river on foot when the bridge was open. What the designers did not anticipate was the pleasure in the spectacle. When the bridge operated, people would go to the top of the bridge simply to watch it open whilst ships passed beneath.

McDowell + Benedetti, working with engineers Alan Baxter Associates, have designed a swing bridge crossing, the River Hull, that people can actually “ride” as it opens and closes. Already the spectacle, and of course the bridge itself, is helping to rejuvenate an old industrial quarter in Kingston upon Hull.

The bridge is made of black painted steel and looks very robust. It has a distinctive curvilinear form that is intended to resonate with the industrial character of that part of the city and the city's maritime history. The bridge provides two pedestrian routes, one step free, the other shorter, but with steps. The bridge connects “the Deep” a popular tourist attraction with the city's main museums.

In an interesting twist on health and safety, the artist Nayan Kulkarni has designed a soundscape where rhythmic bells sound ever quicker as the bridge opens. It combines with a flashing light that not only heightens the thrill of the “ride”, but also draws attention to the dangers presented by the moving structure.



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