The deck of London's newest moveable bridge was installed this week following a 36-hour voyage across the North Sea from its fabrication site in Belgium to its new home in Canary Wharf, London.
Once open for use, the 28-metre single-leaf bascule bridge will provide a road and pedestrian link between Montgomery Square and Canary Wharf’s new district, Wood Wharf.
Designed by engineers COWI, Knight Architects and Eadon Consulting, the bridge fits well into its surroundings, with the slender steel superstructure located below the deck to create a clean, uncluttered appearance.
Twin hydraulic cylinders underneath the eastern end of the steel span will raise the deck to allow large vessels to pass; only in this raised position will the bridge reveal its steel structure and mechanical parts.
Martin Knight, Director at Knight Architects, said: "It has been very rewarding to see this elegant piece of infrastructure become reality. For us, the principal challenge was to match the finely tuned engineering constraints of a lifting structure with the “Beautiful Ordinary” - an understated architectural expression which reflects the high quality of the surrounding public realm and provides an essential link to Canary Wharf’s new district."
Proudly watching the installation, COWI engineer Vlad Opanasiuk commented: "As intended, it looks like a simple design - but there is nothing simple about this bridge! Both the substructure and superstructure required bespoke structural details to achieve the understated appearance envisaged by the architects.
"The deck needs to be light enough to be raised but strong enough to support the crossing vehicles and pedestrians. We therefore selected an orthotropic steel deck solution, which is lighter and more flexible than a concrete one, significantly reducing the power required to raise it.
"To create an open space for pedestrians, the bridge has a relatively wide deck. To provide the necessary torsional stiffness and a visually clean soffit, the main longitudinal girders, which run along the edges of the deck, are tapering closed box sections.
"It's been a fascinating project to work on. Solving complex engineering challenges to bring brilliant designs like this to reality is what makes being an engineer so rewarding."
The bridge’s location also posed a challenge, explains COWI engineer and project manager Musa Chunge:
"The Jubilee Line runs below the waterway and parallel to the bridge so we worked closely with Canary Wharf and TFL to develop a safe piled foundation design for the bridge abutments and the marine causeway that forms the eastern approach."
The complex installation process was successfully completed yesterday. Two self-propelled modular transporters (SMPT) rotated the 185 tonne deck through 90 degrees into its installation position and lowered it onto its supports before the barge was driven away, revealing the bridge in all its glory.
Canary Wharf Contractors
Victor Buyck Steel Construction
Qualter Hall & Co
Kilnbridge Construction Services Ltd
Head of Communication, BTM