Last year, the Network Rail launched a Footbridge Design Ideas Competition in the search for innovative designs of fully accessible footbridges that can be used across Britain’s rail network. There were a total of 121 entries from around the world, including Design4Structures’ own entry. Working alongside the architects at Mackay + Partners, we combined our creativity and experience to make the architect’s aspirations structurally feasible and produce both an aesthetically pleasing and practical footbridge.
Not only is the exterior’s octagonal design striking, but the materials used for the exoskeleton create a light and airy interior brimming with elegance. The main structure was designed with modular elements that could be replicated, meaning that despite its complex appearance, the design is incredibly flexible and can be adapted to fit different spaces simply by adding or removing modules. Using modules also means that the footbridge will be easy to maintain, repair or relocate, and by using structural steel which can be easily reused, we have minimised its environmental impact.
Clever use of geometry has also ensured that despite the tubular construction, the members are actually straight and made from standard sections that are readily available on the market, allowing for easy manufacturing. The modules are also bolted which makes for easy assembly, and their dimensions allow them to fit within standard lorries to facilitate transportation. Once the modules have arrived onsite, they are easy to assemble using standard terrain cranes and bolting the splices together. This quick method of assembly also means that there will be no disruptions to the train services.
We have successfully managed to design a footbridge which is not only affordable, quick and simple to construct, but which is also architecturally beautiful, combining interesting shapes with functionality. The results have now been released, and although we did not take first place, our design earnt a solid B grade. Considering the stiff competition posed by the large consultancies that won, this was an excellent result and our team did brilliantly.