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.

Further information:

2 comments:

Adrian Perkins said...

There was an identical bridge in Lewisham SE London from this time until 2000 or so. It was bright yellow... later red. Same deterioration issues.

Adrian Perkins said...

http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=lewisham+centre+footbridge&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=4_xDU9_ZL8yI7AbulYCwAQ&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAg#biv=i%7C0%3Bd%7C3wDaGyM3pgWBKM%3A