10 August 2010
Manchester Bridges: 15. Exhibition Footbridge
I've mentioned this footbridge previously, but had the chance to return and photograph it again, so it's getting its own post this time. Unlike many of the bridges I feature here, it's certainly not because of its beauty.
The steel tubular truss bridge was built in 1985 as part of the works to create the G-Mex exhibition centre in what was once the Manchester Central railway terminal. It connects Deansgate Railway Station to G-Mex tramstop, although when I visited it was closed for repair work.
It's the sort of bridge which is very easy to imagine looking good on a drawing: simple, regular geometry; an interesting cross-section combining the pentagonal truss with the tubular "glazing"; and the thought that the bridge would be light and open in outlook.
The reality is a truss that would already have looked very "seventies" when built, wrapped around a horribly discoloured polycarbonate tube that has aged even less well. The brown tubular bookends that appear to support it are rather ghastly too.
The lessons for designers, I think, relate not only to the need to understand how a bridge will look in three dimensions, but also to plan to facilitate maintenance (such as cleaning, difficult here). Avoiding materials that don't cope well with a lack of maintenance should also be high up the agenda.