Media City footbridge forms a visual landmark and sculptural gateway to the vibrant MediaCityUK site, part of the Salford Quays regeneration on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal. Together with our partners we designed a bridge that met the dual 20m headroom requirements for ships and achieved “landmark” designation.
A bridge that helps to bring about a new sense of place
MediaCityUK Footbridge connects Trafford with Salford Quays across the Manchester Ship Canal, and so is a major component of the new MediCityUK development. The project called for an original design that took account of its context, responded to the practicalities of the site and created a bridge that is a landmark and destination in its own right. Among the elements considered were the location's geometrical constraints and the need to accommodate vessels up to 20m high which regularly use the Ship Canal.
The Manchester Ship Canal Company sets headroom requirements for both open and closed positions. Working collaboratively with architects Wilkinson Eyre and Bennetts Associates, and M&E engineers from Atkins, our bridge engineers developed a two-span bridge that meets both requirements: it has a main span of 65m and when open provides a 48m navigation channel. The approach ramps are low-gradient, which allows the maximisation of public space on both banks.
Landmark visibility is created by the cable-stayed swing bridge design with fanned mast pylons and offset pivot mast array, which rises above the gently curved deck. The fanned cable array creates a three-dimensional destination space on the bridge.
The structure’s stays and masts point skywards and the bridge pivots asymmetrically on a point about three-quarters of the way along its length in order to allow ships and barges to manoeuvre in and out of the nearby docks. The smaller, flared backspan acts as a counterweight to the rest of the bridge when opened.
The design detail extended to every element of the structure
Our detailed design work covered every element of the structure from the cable-stay anchorages, which incorporate cantilevered bench seating, and the visually deceptive angle chosen for bridge edge soffit, to the discrete stainless steel gate ‘pods’ and precise selection of task and aesthetic lighting.
Our engineers worked on concept design, the approvals process, environmental assessment and stakeholder consultation. We also undertook:
- Environmental assessment
- The design of the opening mechanism and marine works such as the foundation design and vessel impact assessment
- The concrete substructure, pile and caisson design
- Vessel impact assessment services
- Site design support, including support for geometric control and the cable stressing.
Success acknowledged with prestigious awards
Not only is the bridge visually stunning, the innovative process of construction, creativity and teamwork involved has been recognised in many awards including the following:
- 2012 Structural Steel Design Award recognise the high standards of structural and architectural design attainable through the use of this material. Describing the MediaCityUK footbridge as “analytically courageous and technically accomplished” the judges also praised its “well-considered and executed” structure and attachments.
- 2012 winner of the Large Projects category of the North West Civil Engineering Awards organised by the Institution of Civil Engineers. Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE)
- 2011 winner of the Pedestrian Bridges category. Judges praised the elegance of the design, describing it as "a graceful and well engineered bridge that displays structural flair in the concept and the details; a delightful testament to the art of structural engineering”.