Rolling Bridge, Paddington Basin Project, Grand Union Canal Architecture Design

Rolling Bridge London Paddington Basin

Paddington Basin Pedestrian Bridge design by Heatherwick Studio

12 Aug 2009

Rolling Bridge

Location: Paddington Basin, west London
Date built: 2004
Design: Heatherwick Studio

Photographs: Steve Speller

Rolling Bridge Rolling Bridge London Rolling Bridge Paddington Rolling Bridge Paddington Basin

The commission, part of the £500m development at Paddington Basin in Central London, called for an pedestrian bridge to sit across an inlet of the Grand Union Canal and provide an access route for workers and residents. Crucially, the bridge needed to open to allow the boat moored in the inlet to sail in and out.

Rather than design a single rigid element that fractures to allow river traffic through, the studio’s Rolling Bridge opens by slowly and smoothly curling until it transforms from a conventional pedestrian platform into a circular sculpture which sits on the bank of the canal.

The structure opens using a series of hydraulic rams set into the timber platform of the bridge. As it curls, each of its eight segments simultaneously lifts, causing it to roll until the two ends touch and form a circle. The bridge can be stopped at any point along its journey, whether at the very start, when it looks as though it is hovering or half way through its opening path.

The studio’s aim was to make the function and movement the extraordinary aspect of the bridge. With this in mind, the design aesthetics focused on simplicity, leaving its real identity hidden until it hydraulic movement begins.

Engineering firm, SKM Anthony Hunts collaborated with Heatherwick Studio on the project from its conception. The whole structure was constructed at Littlehampton Welding on the Sussex coast and then floated up the Grand Union Canal, before being lifted into position over the canal where it was attached to the mechanics which power its movement.

Rolling Bridge Rolling Bridge London

The Rolling Bridge opens and closes a number of times each week including every Friday at midday.

Rolling Bridge images / information from Heatherwick Studio

Rolling Bridge
image © James Whitaker 2009

Rolling Bridge – Building Information

Project Name: Rolling Bridge

Location: Paddington Basin, west London, UK

Function: Footbridge

Bridge Dimensions: L x 12 metres, W x 1.4 metres
Materials: Steel frame, and hard-wood timber deck
Weight: 4.5 tonnes
No. of Sections: 8
No. of Hydraulic Cylinders: 14 on bridge, 15 underground

Completion: Sep 2004

Client: Paddington Basin Developments Ltd
Client’s Representative: Chelsfield plc
Design: Heatherwick Studio
Structural Engineering: SKM Anthony Hunts
Concept Consultant: Ron Packman
Hydraulics: Solent Fluid Power ; Primary Fluid Power ; DJW Consulting
Construction: Littlehampton Welding
Project Manager: Mace
Quantity Surveyor:Gardiner & Theobald
Planning Supervisor: Mace
Planning Consultant: Montagu Evans

Rolling Bridge London information from Heatherwick Studio

Heatherwick Studio

Location: Paddington Basin, London, England, UK

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