Vortex Bridge, Manchester – Canal Interchange

  • regeneration

The brief called for the design of a pedestrian bridge to be located within Will Alsop’s New Islington regeneration scheme. Hovering over the canal as a series of elegant formal compositions, our proposal seeks inspiration from the concept of a water ‘vortex‘. Spiralling ramps flow around the proposed location creating an innovative response to the prevailing site conditions. Passers-by get drawn into the proposal through entrances seamlessly integrated within the landscape, encouraging movement through the spaces.

The entrances are sensitively designed to create minimum impact upon the ancient wall, preserving the character of the historic route. Movement around the spiralling walkways converges towards a central piazza – an interchange to move, rest and view – from which users can experience the passing water through the central eye.

Similarly, passing barges can re-orientate themselves beneath the drama of the flowing sculptural form, reminiscent of the Franks Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim or Lubetkin’s Penguin Pool. Further exploration is encouraged with a raised viewing platform, affording users with panoramic views across New Islington. In order to enhance the sense of weightlessness throughout, the main structural components were proposed to be constructed of reinforced concrete and glass complimented by a glowing handrail creating a floating ‘halo’ around the walkways – and a space to delight in.