Our competition-winning proposal for a pedestrian and cycle bridge across the Hertford Union Canal would connect the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with a new 2.7ha mixed-use development on Fish Island, near Hackney Wick. The concept won us a place on the Greater London Authority and Transport for London's new £35m Architecture and Urbanism Panel (ADUP2). Following an open competition attracting 1,100 submissions, we were selected because of our “recognised and proven achievements…and [ability] to work collaboratively with complex stakeholder groups,” said the GLA. The concept design for Transport for London would replace an existing link further along the canal, simplifying a convoluted route to the nearest station (Hackney Wick).
In keeping with the area’s strong industrial heritage, the bridge is simple and graphic in form and pattern, with attention focused on precise craftsmanship and high-quality, durable materials. The bridge’s southern access point is seamlessly integrated into Fish Island Village’s new public realm, while the northern access serves a dual purpose as a gallery, offering views into adjacent, double-height light industrial units.
A highly sculptural, fanned web structure gives strength to the sides of the bridge and imparts a distinctive character inspired by the industrial vernacular of the local area. Illumination further enhances the crossing’s landmark qualities.
The deck section balances a minimal structure with maximum usable space. It incorporates a utilities corridor for ducting to bring community-wide zero carbon heating and cooling to Fish Island from the nearby Olympic Park Energy Centre. The bridge’s minimal structure and LED illumination help lower embodied and operational carbon.
Our socially inclusive design features an uninterrupted well-lit deck with access for users of all mobilities. Safety is enhanced with passive surveillance at access points, and public realm design prevents vehicular access. Cycle and pedestrian routes are delineated with different-patterned surfacing, while a 1:21 gradient allows those on wheels to climb the ramp easily and descend safely.
An economically inclusive design provides a direct route to Hackney Wick tube station, unlocking the site to mixed-use development. Meanwhile, a retail unit integrated into the southern access pier creates an opportunity for a small business.
Following the principles of “good growth by design”, our proposal for Fish Island Village Bridge promotes sustainability, inclusivity and enterprise. The bridge provides an essential connection to the town centre, serving the developments planned for Fish Island.
Our proposed infrastructure encourages a range of uses and activities: at the bridge’s connection with the south bank, an integrated commercial unit opens onto the public square. At the junction with the north bank, a tower structure allows for the possibility of pop-up events — likely to be very popular in this area of London.
As well as a crossing, the bridge acts as a ‘gallery walkway’, offering glimpses into maker spaces in the adjacent light industrial unit. Meanwhile, seating is incorporated into the bridge pier, and at the southern junction flows into deep amphitheatre steps and an outdoor terrace for resting, drinking and eating.
Our proposal interfaces with the public realm in different ways. On the south side of the waterway, the bridge acts as a linear 'park' flowing seamlessly across Lofthouse Square. Decked seating flanks the stairway up to the bridge, offering a pleasant place to stop and enjoy the views. Urban artwork on the bridge can be glimpsed through trees in the square. Where the bridge meets Lofthouse Square's Lanterna building, it spreads out to interact with the corner of the freestanding block's, enhancing access and encouraging flow into the ground floor café-bar.
To the north, the bridge is entered by a common access point for all users, irrespective of their mobility or transport mode. The bridge acts as a 'gallery' walkway, offering views into the maker spaces in the double-height rooms of the adjacent light industrial unit.