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Merchant Square Footbridge

London, UK

Open Japanese hand fan inspired lifting bridge crossing the Grand Union Canal at Merchant Square, Paddington, London

Merchant Square Footbridge

London, UK


European Land


2012 - 2014

Structural Engineer


Mechanical Engineer

Eadon Consulting


SH Structures



Simple made spectacular

When major real estate developer European Land sought to radically improve their public realm and raise the profile of the Merchant Square 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