Twin Sails Bridge

Poole, UK

With extreme traffic pressure on Poole's existing opening road bridge, the new Twin Sails Bridge is an essential component in the town's strategy for future growth. Connecting the Old Town to Hamworthy across a busy channel, the crossing opens almost hourly for maritime traffic. Since the bridge is so integral to the town, robustness and reliability are essential. WilkinsonEyre designed a bridge configured as a simple bascule – a flat deck with two hydraulically operated lifting sections.

Normally the joint between each section is transverse, but the designers skewed it across the deck to create two triangular leaves. These cross as they rise and come to rest in an overlapping composition, mirroring the shape of racing yachts passing through the bridge in this international sailing centre. As they lift, the bridge becomes a sculptural piece introducing new vertical elements into the otherwise flat vista of sea, land and sky.

Although locals had campaigned for decades for a new crossing to alleviate the congestion, proposals to create a high-level, fixed bridge bypass right across Holes Bay stalled in 1998. With the development of a 64-acre brownfield site in Hamworthy promising to create 2,000 new homes, the bridge site was relocated to the northern end of Back Water Channel, and the brief reworked to call for an opening bridge across this shorter and more direct route closer to the centre of town.

Designed with the town and its needs in mind, the Twin Sails Bridge superstructure is steel, with cantilevered armatures supporting lightweight decking. To reinforce this light touch, a stainless steel post-and-wire parapet at the edge of the pedestrian walkway allows views out across the water and to the nearby yacht marinas.

"The Twin Sails Bridge is distinguished by its triangular bascule lifting decks. The opening becomes a spectacular event as the decks rise up and evoke the appearance of two sailing yachts crossing."