Winning Scheme

Meadow Story

in the meadow a boy found a curious seed
he put the seed in his pocket and started to run home

he bounded through the long grass in search of a way across the river
in his excitement the seed had jumped from his pocket

the next day he returned from the city to the meadow
from the seed a delicate tendril had grown to connect the meadow to the city

The form of the bridge is a story that grows out of the form of the land: the broad meander of River Irwell, the meandering paths of Salford Meadow, the floral form of the meadow's wildflowers. The Meadow Bridge amplifies the characteristics of its site, and embraces the metaphor of growth. Reaching out from the meadow towards the city, the bridge lands in a new public space with wild flower mounds and seating, bringing the meadow to the city.

The sculptural qualities of the proposal are underpinned by an innovative approach that learns lessons from natural structures. Our proposal for the Meadow Bridge is a simple primary twisting arch supporting a deck made of a pair of curving torsion beams. The curvature in the arch and the sweeping deck optimises its structural stiffness, resulting in an ultra-lightweight structure using minimal material. The hollow triangular torsion structures of the arch and deck are constructed of tailored flat 10mm mild steel plates, using contemporary digital tools in modeling, analysis, and computer-controlled water-jet cutting.

The crown of the arch appears as the two torsion beams part in the middle of the deck, demonstrating how the bridge is supported. Nestled in the crown of the arch are apertures that offer a place to rest and reveals views of the river valley below. In the still dark waters above the weir, the white bridge's reflection creates a complete loop. As a landmark that links the delights of nature to the city centre, the bridge signposts the innovation and education in the university area.

Tonkin Liu with Arup are worthy winners - their unique bridge is poetic, innovative and elegantly engineered with sinuous curves seamlessly linking the Meadows with the new public space to be created. Its sculptural qualities ensure it will be a joy to look at and to use, becoming an inspirational new urban marker for Salford.

Renato Benedetti, McDowell + Benedetti, RIBA Adviser

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