Wood Wharf Bridge
Location: Canary Wharf, London
Client: Canary Wharf Contractors
Sector: Bridges and Infrastructure
Wood Wharf is a Major new urban, waterside quarter for Canary Wharf where the signature excellence in quality of the urban realm is being extended and developed. The bridges are at the key linking point or gateway between the existing development and the new. The proposed landscape scheme is characterised by a series of timber ‘ribbon-like’ boardwalks and floating pontoons of varying widths and heights that wrap around the scheme’s waterfront enhancing the pedestrian experience of the waterside. The south-facing quayside of the western basin and elsewhere is intended to be a prime location for waterfront cafés, bars and restaurants, and will be terraced and landscaped to provide a varied and interesting edge, linking to the arcaded ground floor space of adjacent development.
The bridges are conceived as Kinetic urban sculptures within the public realm, which aim to create moments of drama at the gateway to the new quarter. Opening bridges provide an opportunity to create civic icons that celebrate the interaction of land and water. Unexpected movement fosters delight while articulation of the mechanical concept becomes a spectacle. In this instance the articulation is an inspirational nod to the area’s industrial past. The north bridge is designed to be cool and understated in its closed state, with emphasis on the continuation of the waterside promenade; making its staggered, finger-like opening mechanism all the more unexpected. As a result, in its closed state, it does not compete with its more expressive neighbour, the south bridge. Both bridges, however, are of the same conceptual family and are designed to complement each other.
The north bridge is a simple elegant retractable pedestrian bridge distinguished by its 6 folding ‘fingers’. The fingers retract in a predefined sequence using articulated rams that can be brightly coloured. The result will be a surprising visual spectacle – a piece of theatre. The bridge in its raised position also acts as a natural barrier to foot traffic on one side and signals that the bridge is open from distance.
The south bridge is a cable-stayed folding bridge similar in concept to the Hoernbruecke Bridge in Kiel. However here a pivoting single mast has an integral piston used to raise the folding section. The mast acts as an elegant landmark form that identifies the vehicular gateway to Wood Wharf from a distance. It is clad in expanded metal cladding which can incorporate lighting, turning it into a beacon at night. This may be an element that lighting artists can make a creative contribution to.