Network Rail Footbridge \

Modular bridge of the future

In an open ideas competition to inform the future design of Network Rail’s footbridges across the UK, the RIBA and Network Rail judges selected our modular bridge competition entry as highly commended from 120+ entries.

The competition brief asked for fully accessible footbridges that could be used across Britain’s rail network that were innovative, challenged presumptions and raised expectations for the quality of future design.

The challenge

Network rail own approximately 2,400 footbridges around the UK in areas ranging from rural locations to listed stations to urban interchange zones. Our challenge was to create a flexible design concept that could combine standard components, for ease of construction, whilst also proving site specific designs tailored to serve community needs.

The big idea

Playing homage to the beautifully crafted Victorian signal boxes, our concept draws the need to introduce activity within the bridge deck whilst providing flexibility for future upgrades. Adaptable pods are cantilevered from main Vierendeel structure and external parties are encouraged to propose their own pods for inclusion based on the local context (i.e. café space, busking pods or gallery spaces) to bring revenue and activity into the bridge deck.

Our modular design compromises of a kit of parts which are fully compatible with each other to reduce cost and create a standardisation across the varying site locations. Activity pods are designed to be prefabricated off-site, delivered by rail and lifted into position on site to minimise risk and disruption to the rail network. The pods can be configured to suit each location and, if the location permits, sit alongside each other to provide ultimate upgradability for the future, i.e. creating a double structure provides more retail, social and community spaces.

“The scheme presented a strong strategic approach, proposing a modular 'kit of parts' that would enable a standardised bridge system to be adapted via the use of simple pre-fabricated, clip-on modular elements to different contexts and settings ranging from the historic and rural to the large scale urban interchange, with the footbridge being conceived as a social engine focussed on people and place.”

The Judging Panel RIBA Competitions

Project Summary

Project Team

Structural Engineers: WSP Design Studio

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