John McAslan and Partners' £830,000 competition entry for the Kelvin Link between Glasgow's University and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum triumphed last week ahead of 54 entries from across the uk.
The sinuous bridge is in the form of a series of animated legs striding across the valley between the two institutions, an inclined deck floating amongst the tree tops above, forming a main S-shaped connection. McAslan said the design, which also features a second intersecting connection, was inspired both by the extraordinary architecture and engineering on display at the Great Exhibitions in Kelvingrove park in 1888, 1901, and 1911, and by personal anecdotal testimonies from a number of Glaswegians. The former included a 'dirigible railway' (see picture) which flew visitors to the exhibition in 1911, nearly 40m above the ground and slung beneath an electrically-propelled suspended metal balloon.
The smaller, secondary stepped bridge acts as a supporting structure to the main one and links with the network of paths in the park - which was laid out by Sir Joseph Paxton in 1853. The two are 'kissing bridges' according to McAslan, and enable a series of different routes across.
The main high-level route is on a 1:20 gradient, making it technically an 'incline' rather than a ramp, although some methods of slowing cyclists, skateboarders and in-line skaters may be necessary. It has a precast concrete deck 4.5m wide but was costed for a 3m width (the larger bridge would cost around £920,000). Part of it is designated as a cycle track, while the lower section is just for pedestrians. Steelwork will be painted white.
The competition judges included Glasgow 1999 director Deyan Sudjic and Charles MacCallum, professor of architecture at the Mackintosh School of Architecture. Anthony Hunt Associates is the structural and civil engineer and artist Ron Haselden also worked on the project.