Bridge, Bristol

Niall McLaughlin Architects won a competition to design the TQ2 footbridge beside Bristol Temple Meads Station.  The pedestrian and cycle bridge provides a key link between Bristol’s expanding business district of Temple Quay and the train station in the centre of the city.

The bridge appears as a simple arc of perforated steel that perches on haunched abutments at each side of the floating harbour. 55,000 holes were lazer cut in the stainless steel fabric, with the dimension of the perforations varying according to the changing stresses on the structure across the span of the bridge. In this way the pattern of holes becomes a stress diagram of the work the bridge has to do to cross the river.

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In the day the arc of the bridge picks up light from the sky and water, changing appearance with the weather and the time of day. At night the interior of the bridge holds LED lights, which glow through the perforations and reveal the hidden ribs of the internal structure.

The design is a collaboration with structural engineers Price and Myers and lighting artist Martin Richman. A key aim  was that that the design should be something that would not have been possible without all of the participants. The competition judging committee wrote, ‘Architecture, Engineering and lighting are beautifully combined as the simple elegant structure that the brief envisaged.’