Knight Architects' five pronged bridge connects visitors to floating pocket park

With the never ending urban sprawl that has come to characterise London, it can be difficult to find somewhere to get back to nature.

Luckily there are some architects and designers who are working to solve this problem. The floating new pocket park that opened in Paddington Basin this spring is a perfect example of this innovation.

Located the Grand Union Canal, the park was developed by European Land and Property Limited who commissioned acclaimed garden designer Tony Woods of The Garden Club to create the final design.

 It features open lawns and decked platforms for Londoners to while away a summer’s day on. It also has a ‘no humans’ zone for wild fowl and on top of this, the whole thing is made from recycled materials.

The floating park also features a number of walkways so visitors can access it from the main land. The most recent addition to these walkways is a five pronged bridge created by Knight Architects called Merchant Square Footbridge.

Martin Knight, Director at Knight Architects said: “The inspiration for Merchant Square Footbridge came from a variety of factors. Firstly, the bridge needed to span the Canal, and land ownership restrictions meant that we could only support a moving bridge, which brought the element of ‘drama’ sought by the brief, from one side.”

The design concept for the bridge is simple: a 3m wide cantilevering deck is hinged at its north end and is raised using hydraulic jacks with an action similar to that of a traditional Japanese hand fan.

The five prongs of the bridge create a moving sculpture that creates a beautiful silhouette over the water as it is lowered and raised to let boats pass through the canal.

Knight said: "Bridges are an important component of the built environment – highly visible forms that have a significant impact on their locality and bring connectivity, identity and delight.”

The park forms part of the Greater London Authority’s ‘green infrastructure’ – an ongoing initiative to improve and connect streets, squares, parks, and canal and riverside spaces across London. 

We would say that the Merchant Square Footbridge does just that.

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