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FIRST LOOK

Tintagel Castle double-cantilevered bridge to open this weekend

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Designed by Ney & Partners and William Matthews Associates, a new footbridge to Tintagel Castle sitting 57m above sea level is due to open this weekend

Backed by English Heritage, the new footbridge consists of two 33m-long cantilevers designed to almost touch in the middle and links the ruins of the 13th-century Tintagel Castle, the legendary home of King Arthur, to the headland in north Cornwall. 

Ney & Partners and William Matthews Associates’ designed the bridge, which stands 28m higher than the current crossing. Spanning more than 70m and based on two cantilevers, its design was inspired by studies of Celtic history and the castle’s original drawbridge.

The most striking aspect of the design of the bridge is the inclusion of a narrow gap (40mm) at its centre, which is intended to represent the transition between mainland and island. The bridge’s structure was designed to be as light as possible in order to sit unobtrusively in the landscape. 

The bridge was approved by Cornwall Council in October 2017. The original two-stage design competition for the footbridge was launched in June 2015 by Malcolm Reading Consultants, calling for a team with both architectural and engineering expertise. The Belgian civic engineering firm and the London-based architect was selected ahead of a shortlist including Níall McLaughlin, Marks Barfield, WilkinsonEyre, Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes and Jean-François Blassel Architecte to win the job in March 2016.

Jim holden 1. embargoed until 00.01 thursday 8 august 2019 (5)

Architect’s view

Instead of introducing an element that spans from side to side, we proposed two independent cantilevers that reach out and touch – almost – in the middle. Visually the proposal highlights the void through the absence of material in the middle of the crossing.

The structure, 4.4m-high where it springs from the rock face, tapers to a thickness of 175mm in the centre, with an open joint between the mainland and island halves. The narrow gap between them represents the transition between the mainland and the island, here and there, the present and the past, the known and the unknown, reality and legend: all the things that make Tintagel so special and fascinating.

The successful and harmonious integration of the new bridge into the landscape was a key concern. We believed that whilst the design should definitely be of our time, it should also be timeless. This mix of confidence and harmony would reflect the rugged nature of the surrounding landscape and the fragility of the historic remains and ecology.

Ney & Partners and William Matthews Associates

Jim holden 1. embargoed until 00.01 thursday 8 august 2019 (9)

Client’s view

The Tintagel Castle bridge superbly complements the coastal landscape and brilliantly unlocks the story of the castle. English Heritage is committed to investing in good design that responds to the historic and often iconic places in our care – the new bridge does this magnificently.

Tracey Reed, historic properties director, English Heritage

Tintagel site plan

Project data

Start on site October 2018
Completion August 2019
Form of contract NEC 3
Construction cost £3 million
Architect William Matthews Associates, Ney & Partners
Executive architect William Matthews Associates
Client English Heritage
Structural engineer Ney & Partners
Fabricator Underhill Engineering
Landscape consultant Nicholas Pearson Associates
Project manager Reuben Briggs, senior national project panager, English Heritage
Approved building inspector Cowi acted as Cat III Assessor.
Main contractor American Bridge UK

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