Moxon Architects have completed Castle Green Bridge, located in the grounds of a scheduled ancient monument, in the market town of Taunton, UK. The Bridge has been shortlisted for a BCIA [British Construction Industry Award] as well as being shortlisted for an RIBA award and was the winner of the ACE [Association of Consulting Engineers] ‘Constructing Excellence Award’.
The Castle Green Bridge is one of three bridges designed by Moxon Architects and Flint and Neill Engineers that intend to be a coherent family of infrastructure and is the first to be completed. This pedestrian bridge streamlines the routes from Taunton Green and through the adjacent Goodland Gardens and by doing so increasing legibility of the site, improving the quality of public space, linking the castle and river with nearby retail and redevelopment. The design is intended to be deferential to the Grade 1 listed medieval castle which is now the Museum of Somerset.
It combines the solution to a geometric problem of accessibility (gradients) with a subtle response to the dominant buildings that form its context. Working within strict site constraints the Castle Green Bridge connects Castle Green with Goodland Gardens, climbing 1.8m along its length to provide a fully DDA compliant link in place of the convoluted and restrictive pathway that previously existed on the site.
As a result the old unsafe route to the riverside has been replaced by a new bridge accessible to all. The main hard and soft spaces on and adjacent to the bridge provide a flush, clutter and kerb free experience and Taunton now has a dynamic, multi functional civic space at the town centre for the first time in eighty four years and the bridge is instrumental in providing this.
The trajectory of the bridge is gently curved, subtly yielding to the South West Tower of the Castle but maintaining a direct and simple route from one end of the site to the other. The deck is tapered to mitigate between the contrasting conditions at either end of the bridge. The false perspective set up by the taper, combined with the gentle curve, is contrived to visually shorten the uphill journey to the square while apparently prolonging the downhill stroll into the gardens.
Key aspects of the design include a simple geometry that genuflects to the castle, the flexible placement of piers that have avoided disturbance to individual burial sites (which include of Saxon burials and the potential remains of a medieval church) beneath the bridge and materials and finishes that have been selected for clarity and high quality. The result is a scheme that has minimal impact on archaeology, whilst revealing the potential of the heritage assets.