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South Dock Bridge

Isle of Dogs, London, UK

South Dock Bridge

Isle of Dogs, London, UK

Client

London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Programme

2019 - ongoing

Design Team

Knight Architects, Arcadis, Kgal

Where historic and contemporary commerce meet

The Isle of Dogs in east London has been a major trading centre beside the River Thames for almost two hundred years, with Canary Wharf – one of the UK’s main financial centres – located here since 1980. The South Dock is one of two surviving docks and acts as a boundary between Canary Wharf and South Quay. The large volume of new development on the Isle of Dogs will increase predicted pedestrian traffic above levels that can be comfortably accommodated with existing infrastructure and a new pedestrian bridge was planned by Tower Hamlets to support the expansion. The new crossing, which neighbours Knight Architects' Water Street Bridge, is expected to become one of the busiest pedestrian bridges in London.

The bridge is a two-span variable-depth steel beam with a single central pier in the dock. Each of these spans is approximately 35m long. The bridge provides a permanent 15m-wide and 3m-high navigable channel for smaller boats to pass underneath and, thanks to a movable (bascule) north span, a 25m wide channel without height restriction for taller ships. The deck width varies from 7.8m at the south end to 15.4m at the north one. A triangular void in the movable span directs people away from an existing emergency staircase serving the buildings located on axis at the north end of the crossing. The north abutment hosts the drive mechanism and a concealed counterweight that balances the structure to minimise the energy needed to open the bridge.

The design is slender, unobtrusive, and visually compact. The void created on the main span deck not only guides users and provides an enjoyable crossing experience, but makes the structure more transparent, distinctive and memorable, allowing views through the deck when the bridge is raised. Paying tribute to the history of Canary Wharf, the bridge’s sculptural geometry echoes the curved base of the historic cranes that were once sited along the quays when the site was a commercial port.