Who says urban infrastructure can't be cool? London's new Kinetic Merchant Square Bridge makes bridge crossings a sculptural work of art: the bridge uses a hydraulic system to transform its five long beams from that of a footbridge to a beautiful fan-like structure. Designed by British firm Knight Architects and structural engineers AKT II, the bridge's steel beams rise to create clearance over the surface of the canal, or fall to the opposite shore to offer a three-meter-wide footbridge.
The architects envisioned a moving structure made of five beams that creates a fan-like effect: the first finger can rise up to 70 degrees, while the last beam lifts high enough to create a free space over the surface of the canal. The beams, which weigh between six to seven tons, are counterbalanced with a 40 ton load that enables them to move at a steady and safe pace. The balustrades feature built-in LED lights and provide enough illumination for the short-span crossing.
The structure replaces the broken “corkscrew” bridge and acts as a piece of urban design while functioning as an infrastructural element. It is part of a larger initiative to regenerate the neighborhood and will be part of a project to include six new buildings, three of which are already built.
Photos by Edmund Sumner