We were invited in March 1995 to compete for this design, and we collaborated with Ove Arup and Partners & Gardiner and Theobald.
The Royal Victoria Dock has a dramatic water vista and the bridge should intervene as delicately as possible in this view.
Our concept is a late twentieth century interpretation of the rope suspension bridge. To capture the essence of such a simple idea within rigorous technical, safety, maintenance and economic criteria provided a considerable aesthetic and performance challenge.
It is a single span suspension bridge, hung from a single inclined pylon at each end between two artificial islands. It is straight in plan and gently arched in elevation. The principal catenary suspension cables are parallel. Hangers drop to follow the curving form of the outrigger booms which are braced horizontally either side of the deck – conceived as a thin white aerodynamically smooth blade – creating a subtly shaped three dimensional ‘enclosure’. It is placed 11m above the water, providing for the greatest enjoyment by water users. The 5m width allows a generosity of use for viewing and maintains a width of 3.5m at the pylons. The outrigger arms either side of the deck are fabricated in stainless steel with cast end pieces (‘hand’ and ‘shoulder’) to incorporate the complexities of connections in an economical repeated form. Cross ties below the deck are also in stainless steel.
Stainless steel balustrades are filled in with a fine stainless steel mesh which, at around 50% open area, will allow view and translucency but take some of the force out of the wind. Glazed screen shelters with seats are provided at intervals along the deck and can provide refuges in wet weather.
At each end of the deck is a structurally separate transit platform accessed by lift and stairs, allowing the possibility for the bridge to extend into future dockside development if desired.
A 25m clear passage for large ships is provided between the southern island and the dock edge. A pontoon bridge located at the free end of the deck, spans this channel and is moved by means of an electrically driven bow thruster.
This bridge will provide an essential and dramatic link in a network of pedestrian and cycle routes knitting together a large part of eastern London.