Yet in motion, the bridge transforms into something else entirely: the steel walkway opens accordion-style, morphing into a five-pronged sculpture that spreads open as easily as butter.
The Merchant Square footbridge is one of various structural projects meant to reinvision the Paddington, London locale. Other projects include a water maze and garden space. When down, the bridge provides a walkway that’s three meters wide. When extended, the moving footbridge allows boats to pass through the 20-meter wide canal.
Inspired by the movement of a Japanese hand fan, this simple moving footbridge was created by Knight Architects (a design team that focuses on bridges) and the structural engineers at AKT II. Five expertly installed steel beams comprise the bridge’s main structure, though hydraulic jacks and counterweights are both needed to move the beams. Knight Architects—a group of designers who believe that good design must improve lives, add value and be lasting—won the rights to design the bridge following a competition in 2012.