Guildford Borough Council
2017 - 2022
Knight Architects, Arcadis
Embracing the opportunity when ‘small is beautiful’
Guildford Borough Council initiated the replacement of the Walnut Bridge as part of their wider Town Centre Regeneration Strategy. The new bridge improves a vital east-west connection within the town masterplan, increasing capacity for pedestrians and cyclists travelling between the station and the town centre.
The existing bridge crossing the River Wey did not meet the current user demand and was particularly impractical for cyclists. The route from the station was set back behind the building facade line of Walnut Tree Close, which made it hard to find and created a potential security hazard at night. The new bridge has greater visibility and offers an improved user experience for all.
An understated modern aesthetic has been developed to deliberately contrast with that of the historic neighbouring Billings printworks buildings to protect the clarity of their 19th century character. The bridge provides a 4m-wide shared use deck, with steps down to the towpath level. It provides a direct connection with the River Wey, where pedestrians and river users will see the feature soffit – the forgotten elevation of many bridges. Eastern access and the descent to Bedford Plaza is defined by land ownership constraints. These inspired a ‘pocket place’ combining steps, seats, and planters along the ramp sides, with tall lighting totems completing a sophisticated sense of urban place-making.