Wembley White Horse Bridge & Public Realm
Location: Wembley, London
Sector: Bridges and Infrastructure, Public Realm
Status: Completed 2008
Masterplanning Consultant: Arup Associates
Structural Engineers: Halcrow
Steelwork Contractor: Cleveland Bridge UK Ltd
The White Horse Bridge was actually two projects in one: the bridge itself spanning the railway line and providing a new pedestrian link to both Wembley Central and Wembley Stadium stations, and a new pedestrian square, one of the Mayor’s 100 new public realm projects, which also forms one of the major gateways to the new Wembley Stadium.
Because of the stadium, the scheme has to serve two quite distinct purposes. For most of the time, the bridge and square only serve the neighbourhood, providing a focus for community activities and forming a welcoming space where local residents and workers from the surrounding developments — which are increasingly being attracted to the area — can sit out and relax. On match days, however, the square is transformed by the 80,000 or so people who descend on the area in just a few hours, many arriving and departing through the station. Masterplanners and traffic consultants Arup Associates, calculated that up to 12,000 people per hour might be moving through the square, many waiting to meet up with friends while others queue to gain access to the stadium before the game or, more problematically, to the station once the game is over.
Our solution was to separate both the bridge and the square into three zones, the bridge on a permanent basis with full-height mesh security screens to meet Network Rail’s stringent requirements. Separation of the square is less obvious and relies on the careful alignment of the lamposts and the shape and positioning of seating and land-scaped areas to guide people in the desired direction.
The west side of the bridge forms part of the paid area of the station and guides arriving fans towards the stadium via the west side of the square. The central area is reserved as a through route, linking across the bridgeto Wembley High Road, while the east side of the square is designed to act as a holding area, where departing fans can queue while awaiting access to the station via special ‘event day only’ entrances on the east side of the bridge. To help define this separation, the bridge was designed with twinned arches on either side enclosing the station’s access routes, while the open area between them forms the through route. The bridge and square opened in 2008 and has proved a great success.