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Can a footbridge celebrate traditional british railway architecture?

Railway footbridges come in all shapes and sizes, and often have no unifying character.  Modern requirements for covered spans mean that new footbridges often appear like buildings, but their functional nature means they can feel utilitarian and do not offer a great user experience.  In contrast, traditional British railway architecture is unique and has a rich and varied history. Railway buildings are traditionally defined by pitched roof forms and vertical timber cladding with iconic detailing.  Nowadays, many stations still retain their characterful buildings but lack sufficient covered waiting areas which are expensive to provide on multiple platforms.

We propose to make a wide covered footbridge with a picturesque view over the landscape. The bridge's width allows enough room for a bench allowing passengers to see their train arriving.  A natural green strip softens the interior of the bridge providing a contemplative place for passengers to wait, similar to the Highline in New York. Externally the building the building is clad in cast metal panels which are designed to mimic traditional timber detailing in stations but be robust in their longevity.  The form of the bridge will create a simple and legible silhouette that feels both contemporary and traditional; A building and a bridge.

Plate girder bridges are common in British railways, they are durable, efficient and cost effective to construct. Our proposal is designed as a steel plate girder bridge in two separate pieces (deck and roof) which can be prefabricated and craned into place on footings formed on either platform.  In this case we propose to invert the traditional appearance a girder bridge and allow the structural material to be celebrated internally.  The bridge design is adaptable to suit many contexts. The pattern and material of the facade and the interior can be modified to suit the character of the area. 

Railway Footbridge
Location: Various, UK
Type: infrastructure
Size: 20m long
Client: Network Rail
Status: Competition, Longlisted
Date: 2018

Project Team:
Alex Smith,
Ayse Bailey,
Maegan Icke,
Michael Waters