18 November 2014 – The Guardian
London’s Paddington is set to get a new landmark with the announcement that Westminster planners have approved proposals to construct a kinetic ‘fan bridge’ that will unfurl over the Grand Union Canal at Merchant Square.
Conceived by Buckinghamshire-based bridge specialists Knight Architects, the three-metre-wide cantilevered moving structure will span 20 metres across the canal and is raised using hydraulic jacks with an action similar to that of a traditional Japanese hand fan. The deck of Merchant Square footbridge is made of five fabricated steel beams which open in sequence, with the first rising to an angle of 80 degrees; the four subsequent beams will rise at lower increments. Shaped counterweights assist the hydraulic mechanism and reduce the energy required to move the structure. The handrail will house a low-energy LED downlight which will illuminate the structure.
Those wishing to see the bridge in motion will need to time their visits carefully. It is located near the very end of Paddington Basin with only permanently moored business barges beyond it, so it is not expected that the structure will need to accommodate through marine traffic. However, the Canal & River Trust stipulate that bridges in the area don’t obstruct vessel navigation which is why it is necessary that the bridge can be raised. It will be opened at noon on Friday each week, and on special occasions, by members of the Merchant Square management team.
The bridge will be in place by the end of 2014, but it isn’t the only structure of its kind in the area. Thomas Heatherwick, the designer behind the Olympic cauldron, created a rolling bridge which curls into itself when required. It also opens at noon every Friday.