Back in February, Buro Happold and Explorations Architecture were announced as the winner of RIBA's design competition for a new £1.5m footbridge over the River Soar in Leicester. But what of the other five competition entries, how did they compare?
I've tracked down the entries, and as usual, they're shown below. As always, click on an image for a larger version, and links are provided where a competitor has more details on their own website. Further information on three of the designs can be found at Europaconcorsi, from where I've shamelessly poached most of these images.
So, would I have chosen a different winner to the judging panel? The risk-averse engineer within me would have been nervous about the large foundations required for the Happold design, and the consequential risk of higher than expected geotechnical costs. The same is true to a lesser extent of the Gifford bridge, which must resist large horizontal forces at some point due to both its assymketry and suspension design (large only in the context of a small footbridge, of course).
It's interesting that only one of the designs includes a mast element - this is in line with the current landmark footbridge trend which is away from the Calatrava-esque (all poles and cables) and towards a more intimate experience. Without knowing the context of the scheme it's hard to judge whether a cable-supported bridge is the right solution - it certainly offers the advantage that the deck and parapets can be physically and visually much lighter. It's also nice to see the suspension bridge option chosen for a footbridge - I'm a big fan of historic examples like the bridges of David Rowell and Louis Harper.
The Price and Myers design has an attractively rusty brutalism to it, and the McDowell & Benedetti entry borrows from the modernist boardwalk feel of their excellent Castleford footbridge. I very much like the form of the Moxon arch bridge but it looks a little too enclosed for this site.
My favourite is the Ramboll Whitbybird entry, an interesting play on the traditional lattice truss bridge which in its creation of visual interference patterns offers a nice nod towards the nearby Leicester Science Park and National Space Centre.
Price and Myers / Allies and Morrison
Gifford / Knight Architects
Arup / McDowell & Benedetti
Arup / Moxon Architects