Media City Footbridge

Salford, UK

Salford Quays has long been a hub of activity; the docks here were among the busiest in the UK during the early years of the 20th century, handling millions of tonnes of cargo. In 1985, following the gradual decline of the docks, the area finally became the subject of an innovative regeneration plan, which brought attractions such as The Lowry and the Imperial War Museum North to the waterside. WilkinsonEyre contributed to the latest stage of its transformation with a footbridge as part of the BBC's Media City development.

WilkinsonEyre's footbridge forms a visual landmark and sculptural gateway to the Media City site and connects it with satellite developments and attractions on the southern side of the Manchester Ship Canal. It is a critical element in weaving together the new urban grain, reinforcing links that were not there before, and helping to bring about a new sense of place.

The curved, 100m-long deck of the bridge responds to the radial masterplan of the site, and reinforces an orbital pedestrian route around the canal basin. Rather than being a stationary element in the network of infrastructure, the bridge has been designed as a piece of active sculpture, swinging open when needed to allow vessels to pass through along the canal. The centrepiece is the distinctive mast configuration that reaches up to 30 metres and is formed from a fanned array of the individual pylons that support the stay cables.

The masts converge at their base onto a steel pedestal above the pivot point of the bridge, which rotates with the bridge as it opens to form a counterbalance to the main span. Although the masts are a direct functional response to the forces flowing through them from the stays above, they work as part of a wider composition with the adjacent buildings, reflecting in particular the interlocking curves of Daniel Libeskind's Imperial War Museum.

WilkinsonEyre's footbridge forms a visual landmark and sculptural gateway to the Media City site and connects it with satellite developments and attractions on the southern side of the Manchester Ship Canal.