Scale Lane Footbridge, Hull

Scale Lane Footbridge, Hull

The project started when Qualter Hall, a 100% subsidiary of Waagner-Biro, along with its architectural partner, submitted the winning entry of an international competition. It included a public consultation for a new opening bridge, providing essential infrastructure to connect new development on the east bank of the River Hull to the city centre in Hull, UK. 


This new concept competition winner is a 57 metre span, 1000 tonne, pedestrian and cycle way Swing Bridge, connecting Scale Lane to Tower Street on opposite banks of the River Hull.  A key feature in the award was the distinct form of a 'whale' that the bridge takes, making it an instant landmark, unique to Hull and its rich maritime heritage.


The innovative pivoting design provides the public with a unique experience as they are able to remain on the bridge while it opens and closes for river traffic, as part of the wider visitor experience - believed to be a world first.  The bridge remains in permanent contact with the west bank of the River Hull, allowing pedestrians to walk and cyclists to ride on and off the bridge during rotation.  The operating speed of the bridge is controlled to cater for both able and disabled people to use with ease.


A digital audio-visual art show is provided every time the bridge swings into action, with recordings of ship bells and other vessel noises being played as the bridge starts to move.  The bridge also incorporates in-built sound and light installations synchronised to the movements of the crossing.  Pedestrians and cyclists using the bridge hear the recorded sounds of running water from hidden speakers as they approach the structure along the ancient Scale Lane Staith.   The sound and light show is accompanied by bronze artwork highlighting nautical words, which represent the components of a ship.


In addition the bridge incorporates a space with panoramic views, within the hub of the movable structure, suitable for a bistro / restaurant.


The primary structure consists of a steel spine, cantilevering approximately 35 metres from a three-dimensional Vierendeel girder ring that is approximately 16 metres in diameter, with a circular structure which houses the glazed bistro / restaurant space.  The structure is supported on wheels and incorporates a slew bearing to permit rotation, which is then supported on a tubular pile / concrete substructure. A 650 tonne concrete ballast located in the hub and walkways provides a counterbalance to the 37 metre long spine section.


The cantilevered steel spine arches up and over the river, allowing enough room for smaller boats to pass under without need to operate the bridge, and rotates using an electrical drive mechanism to open the route to river traffic when large vessels need to pass.  In contrast to the river’s industrial character, the bridge is sleek and sensuous and painted black with a robust non-slip finish applied to the walkway surface. It features two generous pedestrian routes, one gently sloping route and a shorter stepped walkway.  The central structural spine leads onto a terrace area with seats for people to use and enjoy the views.