Unity bridge

Location: London
Year completed: 2017
Client: Clerkenwell Design Week/Media 10
Architect: Scale Rule
Wider team: Jewsons

Can a bridge be more than just a simple crossing? Is it even a bridge if it crosses nothing? The Unity bridge in many ways was just a fantastic folly, a bridge to nowhere but in other ways it was so much more: A focal point for a community, a space for people to rise above the hubbub and also a place to share their hopes and dreams. The structural concept was relatively simple, 110 individual timber ‘H’ frames with the steps and bridge deck supported off the cross beam. By distributing the structure over many individual frames each element could reduced in size  due to the lower structural demand. The entire structure was stiffened through the curved handrail which was made up of 4 layers of thin plywood.

The concept behind the bridge was to take users on a journey and allow them to experience the park in a way that they wouldn’t have previously. During the Clerkenwell Design Week, festival goers were invited to attach messages to the structure creating a piece which evolved as the festival progressed.

The complete installation was built using an unskilled volunteer labour force, including the students who came up with the initial concept design. The lack of skilled labour presented another constraint for the design team, requiring a simple structural system that could be reliably repeated. Connections for the H frames were all designed with simple bolted connections. Three H frames were used for each step with more forming the abutments of the bridge.