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Merchant Square Footbridge

London, UK

Merchant Square Footbridge

London, UK


European Land


2012 - 2014

Design Team

Knight Architects, AKT II, Eadon Consulting, Studio Fractal

Contractor Team



SH Structures


Structural Steel Design Award 2015

Structural Award 2015 (Commendation)

Architizer A+ Awards 2015 (Shortlisted)

ICE London Civil Engineer Awards 2015 (Shortlisted)

Blueprint Awards 2015 (Shortlisted)

British Construction Industry Awards 2015 (Shortlisted)

Building Awards 2015 (Shortlisted)

Civic Trust Award 2016

RIBA London Award 2016

Detail Structure Prize 2016

Architecture Masterprize 2016

Archmarathon 2016

International Architecture Award 2016

Footbridge Award 2017

Pineapple Awards 2019 (Shortlisted)

Simple made spectacular

Major real estate developer European Land sought to radically improve their public realm and raise the profile of the Merchant Square, a commercial and residential quarter at Paddington Basin, London. They recognised the power of a bridge to create a valuable sense of place and brand identity.

The competition-winning concept for the replacement opening footbridge is both simple and spectacular. Spanning the Grand Union Canal at the heart of the new development, a 3m wide cantilevering deck is hinged at its north end and is raised using hydraulic jacks. The deck is divided longitudinally so it opens with an action similar to that of a traditional Japanese hand fan.

In motion it is an eye-catching kinetic sculpture whose dramatic silhouette is well suited to the waterfront bars and restaurants. The five steel beams forming the deck open in sequence and employ shaped counterweights to assist the hydraulic mechanism and reduce the energy required.

Listed in The Guardian newspaper’s “World’s Most Striking Pedestrian Bridges”, the bridge is on the London tourist trail and even made an appearance in the 2016 film “Jason Bourne”.

People walking around Merchant Square with the fan bridge in the background

“Knight Architects’ solution brilliantly addressed the briefing requirements and has become an internationally identifiable design, supporting the strong sense of place achieved in the wider Merchant Square public realm.”

– Andrew Scrivener, CEO European Land
Children playing on the counterweights of Merchant Square Footbridge
Bright green hydraulics