Swan wins Saltire for Buro Happold

Swan inspired pedestrian bridge canopy receives recognition in Scotland

by Laura Salmi 11 November 2008
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    Buro Happold has won a civil engineering Saltire Award for their work on the Swan Canopy over the Forth and Clyde Canal pedestrian bridge. The multi-disciplinary practice of consulting engineers took the Project Design award in a scheme that recognises excellence in Civil Engineering in Scotland.

    Buro Happold worked with RMJM architects to devise the design for the structure following an international competition. Inspired by the elegance of a swan in flight, the canopy was commissioned by Clydebank Re-built, the town’s urban regeneration company, and publicly funded. It spans the Forth and Clyde Canal in Clydebank town centre, replacing an unpopular 25-year-old metal-latticed frame bridge and creating a new focal point for the town.

    The canopy spans some 40 metres, cantilevering 20 metres either side of the central supports. The fabric, which is a self-cleaning and reusable PTFE coated glass fibre (the same material used to cover the O2 Arena), is stretched over a series of arches to form the wings of a swan. Each wing is supported by steel arms springing from four steel legs spread either side of the bridge; the steel is fully recyclable.

    “A key design challenge was to resist the large wind uplift attracted by a wing-shaped canopy,” explained Buro Happold’s Ian Hargreaves. “This was achieved by introducing cables, suspended from masts, to resist the gravity loads and downward wind forces, and secondly by separating the arms and the wing out to form a triangular truss, to resist the uplift wind forces.”

    Commended by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) as ‘a beacon to the regeneration of the area’, the £495,000 bridge opened to the public in May, and will eventually provide a link to another regenerated part of town – Queen’s Quays, the site of the former John Brown shipyard.

    Laura Salmi

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