The UK-based firm Knight Architects has created a pedestrian bridge in London that opens and closes like a Japanese folding fan. The Merchant Square Footbridge is comprised of five steel beams that sequentially open with the help of hydraulic jacks. The structure spans about 65 feet across the Grand Union Canal in the new mixed-use Merchant Square development in Paddington.
Knight Architects, alongside structural engineering firm AKT II won a design competition for the bridge in 2012. In a statement, Knight explained that the individual beams together form the bridge’s deck and that counterweights and a hydraulic system reduce the structure’s energy use. Dezeen reported that the bridge opens up every Friday to accommodate passing ships.
“A fixed structure wasn’t viable at that site as the constraints wouldn’t allow for the ramps necessary to get above the shipping envelope,” project architect Bartlomiej Halaczek told Dezeen. “A moving structure however would have to be maintained, and as these are usually quite significant costs, we had to keep them low by not overcomplicating the structure and picking a relatively simple mechanical system.”