Creating new relationships with context: a pedestrian bridge over the Thames
Aerial Essex, Simon Kennedy,
- Creating new relationships with context: a pedestrian bridge over the Thames
Prior to the construction of the new structure designed by Moxon Architects with structural engineers COWI and built by Knights Brown, the footpath on the upstream side had to detour around the railway line near Barnes Railway Bridge. The Dukes Meadows Footbridge now connects the Thames Path on both sides of the railway, allowing the path to follow the river without this inconvenient 500 metre detour.
Apart from the convenience of avoiding the detour and improving safety with lights integrated in the handrails, the pedestrian bridge with ramps on both sides ensures accessibility for wheelchair users, mobility scooters and parents with pushchairs, ensuring that the path is available to a broader public.
While improving the quality of the Thames Path, Dukes Meadows Footbridge also offers additional leisure opportunities to the wider area, encouraging recreation and sustainable modes of travel, benefiting both the population and the environment. In effect, the sustainability of this structure with its "half-through" truss form with distinctive bracing members angled to maximise oblique views to the river plays a key role in the project.
According to Cameron Archer-Jones, Principal Engineer of COWI in the UK: "With significant carbon emissions traceable to construction of transport infrastructure projects, COWI is committed to designing intelligently, specifying low-carbon materials, and building efficiently on every project – and the Dukes Meadow Footbridge was one of the very first projects to benefit from an innovative new tool developed by COWI to improve how carbon data is captured and utilised.“ Thus, estimates made using COWI’s CO2e tool show that innovation in material specification and construction technique between design and completion have enabled a 50% reduction of carbon emissions associated with the trusses, and a 30% reduction in the 115-metre footbridge’s overall carbon footprint.
In pursuit of the general goal of reducing environmental impact and carbon emissions during construction, the walkway was prefabricated in Tilbury, Essex and transported to the site along the river. The meandering alignment of the trusses facilitates views up and downstream, as well as into the adjacent Dukes Hollow nature reserve, one of the few remaining natural tidal habitats in London. The energy-efficient lighting was designed to minimise impact on the fragile Dukes Hollow ecosystem, reducing light pollution without sacrificing users’ comfort and safety. Moreover, robust stainless steel and aluminium finishes allow for future floods and reduce the maintenance that will be required over the lifespan of the Dukes Meadows Footbridge, which is planned to last more than a century.
„An affordable, efficient and honest solution that was easy to construct and pleasing to use,“, as Ezra Groskin, director of Moxon Architects, said of the footbridge that opened a few weeks ago and has already been well-received by local communities, with an excellent response on the part of users.
Architect and Lighting Designer: Moxon Architects
Structural, Geotechnical, Environmental and Civil Engineering: CampbellReith (Concept Design) / COWI (Technical Design)
Principal Contractor: Knights Brown
Steel Fabricator: McNealy Brown
Marine Engineering: Marmus
Marine Transport and Logistics: Red 7 Marine
Electrical Engineering: Slender Winter Partnership
CDM Consultant: Goddard Consulting
Project Manager and Quantity Surveyor: Currie & Brown
Location: Chiswick, London, UK
Images: Simon Kennedy, Aerial Essex