Corporation St. Bridge vs Floral St. Bridge

January 28, 2008


UP: Corporation Street Footbridge designed by Hodder Associates, linking Arndale Centre with Marks&Spencer across Corporation Street. Manchester, UK.

ARCHITECT: Hodder Associates, DESIGN TEAM: Stephen Hodder, Stewart Jones, Helen Roberts, Peter Williams, CLIENT: Manchester Millennium, AWARDS: Structural Steel Design Award 2000, DuPont Benedictus Award for Innovation in Architectural Laminated Glass, RIBA Award 2000, American Institute of Architects 2000, COMPLETITION:1999.

DOWN: Bridge of Aspiration designed by Wilkinson Eyre linking the Royal Ballet School and the Royal Opera House.

ARCHITECT: Wilkinson Eyre, DESIGN TEAM: Jim Eyre, Annette von Hagen, Martin Knight, STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Flint & Neill Partnership, LOCATION: Floral Street, London. CLIENT: The Royal Ballet School, COMPLETITION: 2003.
RIBA Award winner 2004, RFAC Trust/BSkyB Building of the Year Award, Bridge Category 2004, Civic Trust Award 2004, Aluminium Imagination Awards 2003, First Prize – The Imagination Award

CREDIT: ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW, 2003, July 2003Floral Street is a tall narrow thoroughfare in London’s Convent Garden in which the massive white neo-renaissance bulk of the Royal Opera House suddenly obtrudes into a small-scale streetscape of pubs and little shops. Most people do not look up as they hurry down the street or loaf along window shopping. But the few who do, glimpse a magical phenomenon: a crystal that twists and shimmers across the street against the sky.

This is the new bridge between the Royal Ballet School and the Opera House, created so that dancers can go from the practice rooms in the school to the Opera House without having to rush across the road in the rain. The twisted geometry is necessary because the school level from which the structure sets out is higher than the opening in the huge blind wall of the Opera House, and it is a small distance to the east. The Opera House is a Grade I-listed historic building which the architects were bound to change as little as possible, so one of E.M.Barry’s blank attic windows became the point of entry. The ballet school to the north is a much less distinguished building, recently constructed under one of the new forms of government procurement that more or less guarantees mediocrity, but internal planning necessitated only one location for the spring point of the bridge on that side.

CREDIT: arup and hodder-associates

On 15 June 1996 a large bomb exploded injuring 220 people and causing immense physical damage to the core of Manchester city centre and its social and economic fabric. The shattered footbridge, which connected two shopping centres across Corporation Street, remains one of the most vivid images. The renewal programme is now complete and in 1997 the competition for a new footbridge was won.

Contextually Corporation Street is canyon like and is a significant, linear north-south route through the City culminating with the civic space of Albert Square. The footbridge takes the form of a hyperbolic parabaloid of revolution and appears as a lightweight glazed membrane stretched across the street. Its transparency is heightened by the arch which permits uninterrupted aspects and whose symmetry optically redresses the change in level of the boardwalk which threads through from side to side. Outside the membrane are 18 straight 25 mm tension rods and 110 mm circular hollow section compression members which spiral in an alternating clockwise and anti-clockwise direction.

“This project has turned into a sort of landmark for the city of Manchester, a sort of memorial to the bomb attach and a cutting-edge symbol of modernity and the city’s culture.’ Mario Antonio Arnaboldi l’Arca, December 2000”

The pedestrian bridge, situated in the centre of Manchester, links the restored Arndale shopping centre with a flagship branch of Marks & Spencer. The design, by Hodder Associates, aimed to emphasise light and transparency. It combines a steel lattice structure, engineered by Arup, with a skin of flat triangular glass panels, positioned to create a three-dimensional curvature.

Arup Facade Engineering devised a fixing system of bespoke stainless steel castings, nodes, that would accommodate the varying glass panel sizes and the complex shape of the bridge. The glass panels were laminated with strong polyester PET interlayers that extended beyond the corners of each glass panel in the form of tabs held by the stainless steel nodes. In the event of complete failure by the glass elements, the interlayers could maintain the integrity of the bridge and prevent injury to either maintenance workers on the bridge or pedestrians underneath.

The bridge has won several prestigious awards including a Structural Steel Design Award 2000, DuPont Benedictus Award for Innovation in Architectural Laminated Glass, RIBA Award 2000, American Institute of Architects 2000.


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