A new Crossrail Station to the north at Custom House and the proposed Millennium Mills development south of the Royal Victoria Dock are both part of wider redevelopment in London’s old dockyards, which are fast becoming both a new centre for commerce and a desirable residential hub.
An existing high-level footbridge runs across the docks and links the nearby ExCeL Centre with residential units, but with the listed Millennium Mills warehouse due to be refurbished and become the focal point of a new masterplan, an innovative replacement bridge is proposed, which more directly serves the needs of future users.
Royal Victoria Dock is a working dock, with boats passing through on a regular basis. The existing footbridge worked around this by setting the platform 16 m above the water, accessible by lifts at either end. While this removed the need for an opening mechanism, such as a lower bridge would require, it reduces usability for pedestrians, who are reliant on the functionality of the passenger lifts.
The proposal is to replace this with a cantilevering concrete boardwalk which will curve across the dock, arriving just at the entrance to the Mills. Although curved in shape, the bridge will be formed from regular sections which will be assembled using a jack-up barge system, transferred from the shore to the secured barge and then raised.
Concrete decks will cantilever out from precast piers, which will combine with texturised aluminium infill panels to create a tactile experience with a modern yet industrial feel, well-suited to its context.
Because this bridge is considerably lower than the previous one, a floating, rotating opening section will be required to allow the smooth passage of boats and barges. Innovative methods are being explored to ensure that the structure is strong and rigid when closed, but that it can move freely when opening, without affecting the structure of the bridge.
Replacement of an existing footbridge across the Royal Victoria Dock with a moving opening section and attractive industrial aesthetic
£ 15 – 20 million