AVA Bridge\

A revolutionary new footbridge, mass produced yet tailor made.

An adaptable, low-carbon, pre-manufactured footbridge system that can be rolled out anywhere, from Liverpool to Los Angeles.

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

The challenge

Railway station footbridges provide essential access for passengers and often a crucial connection between neighbourhoods, but they are time-consuming, carbon intensive and expensive to build. Is there a more efficient way of procuring footbridges for use across the UK and beyond?

Recognising that railway stations - and access to them - are fundamental to building vibrant, local communities, Network Rail and Innovate UK assembled a team to design and build a revolutionary new footbridge, which could be rolled out over the network.

Up until now Network Rail has been constructing access-for-all footbridges which often take years to build; the brief for this bridge was for a flexible product that would improve connectivity while saving time, money and carbon.

The AVA bridge is being designed, manufactured, constructed, and marketed by a consortium as part of the TIES Living Lab programme, which is tasked with improving efficiency in the industry. The consortium is comprised of main partners Network Rail, Expedition Engineering, X-Treme Systems, MTC and Walker Construction, with key collaborators Hawkins\Brown, SCX, Atelier Ten, Quantum Infrastructure and the Norman Foster Foundation.

The big idea

AVA is more than a bridge, it’s a system – a kit of parts that can be configured in a variety of ways, depending on where it is to be situated and the needs of the community that it will serve. It’s a new way to mass-produce bridges quickly and efficiently but great care has also been taken to ensure that it is a really well designed product that people will enjoy using for many years to come.

Each option, component and material has been tested against the opportunity to save whole life carbon. While upfront carbon has been reduced, by concentrating on replacement cycles overall embodied carbon will be significantly lower. In addition, the team have tested the operational energy use against the potential for on-site renewable energy generation

It’s also a collaborative project, in which the contractor, manufacturer, engineer, architect and client have worked together at every stage of the design process. The involvement of the manufacturer and the contractor in the production of a prototype in the very early stages has been critical to test the capabilities of various manufacturing techniques, as well as carbon emissions, enabling a seamless transition from final design to construction.

Industry 4.0 technology has facilitated the sharing of data and information throughout the project team; with the design team’s Revit modelling feeding into the fabrication model, which in turn has informed the asset/BIM model.

All AVA components (apart from the lifts) will be manufactured offsite in the same factory and assembled quickly and efficiently onsite, with minimal impact on the local environment. The structure is long lasting and low maintenance, comprising a light, robust stainless-steel structural frame and cladding system.

The state-of-the-art curved glass lifts have been designed from the ground up by SCX to be manufactured and assembled offsite, transported in one piece for a simply ‘plug and play’ installation onsite. Being powered by a dual drive system minimises downtime, which means lifts will be in service more often and the bridge is always accessible.

The first bridge is expected to be installed over a section of Network Rail test track in Widmerpool, Nottinghamshire in April 2022. Following a short testing period the consortium will begin to fulfil orders, which are already coming in from as far afield as Australia, Canada and the USA.

If you're interested in finding out more about AVA Bridge, please contact: Andrew Davies (Infrastructure Sector Lead).

“Sometimes, focusing on guaranteeing efficiencies can make the design aspiration suffer.

We have worked closely with our collaborators to ensure that the lightest, most efficient bridge to manufacture and install could also be the most beautiful”

Andrew Davies Partner, Hawkins\Brown


Immerse yourself in the project with our interactive panorama below

Pano2VR credits: Hawkins\Brown and Tom Spall

If you have difficulty viewing the 360 experience you can view this in a separate window here

Project Summary

Project Team

Consortium members: Network Rail, Expedition Engineering, X-Treme Systems, MTCand Walker Construction.

Collaborators: Hawkins\Brown, SCX, Atelier Ten, Quantum Infrastructure and Norman Foster Foundation.

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