London’s Sculptural Rolling Bridge is a design icon
In 2004, a pedestrian bridge with a difference was opened in London spanning an inlet off the main canal at Merchant Square, Paddington Basin.
The Rolling Bridge was conceived by the Heatherwick Studio, who were influenced by the fluid, coiling tails of the animatronic dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park films. The team evolved the design to create a bridge that curls up until its two ends spiral together to make a circle.
The simple, self-contained structure, fixed only to one bank, rolls up to become a freestanding sculptural object, leaving nothing behind on the other side. Powered by hydraulic rams, the steel mechanism is very quiet. Consisting of eight triangular sections that extend to form a conventional 12m steel and timber footbridge. To allow for the passage of boats, hydraulic pistons curls up the structure to form an octagon.
Conventional opening bridges break apart in the middle or hinge from one side to let boats pass through. Heatherwick wanted to design a bridge that would get out of the way using a softer mechanism to transform itself by mutating rather than fracturing.
In 2005, the bridge won the British Structural Steel Design Award.
Heatherwick Studio is a team of 180 problem solvers dedicated to making the physical world better for everyone. Based out of a combined workshop and design studio in Central London, they create buildings, spaces, master-plans, objects and infrastructure. Focusing on large scale projects in cities all over the world, they prioritise those with the greatest positive social impact. Working as practical inventors with no signature style, their motivation is to design soulful and interesting places which embrace and celebrate the complexities of the real world.
Collaborators on the project included DJW Consulting, Gardiner & Theobald, Mace, Montagu Evans, Primary Fluid, Littlehampton Welding, Ron Packman, Solent Fluid Power, SKM Anthony Hunts, and Power.