Westminster City Council has approved this new footbridge designed by William Matthews Architects which will link London’s Portland Hospital and its 1970s neighbour
The blossoming studio, set up in early 2013 by former Renzo Piano architect and one-time project lead on The Shard William Matthews, has drawn up the plans for client the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA).
The steel and laminated structure will link the third floors of both buildings ‘forming an easy internal connection between the two buildings…radically improving the functionality and efficiency of the hospital  and [its seven storey neighbour] 215 Great Portland Street’.
The architect’s view
‘The Portland Hospital is severely constrained on its current site and desperately needs to expand in order to satisfy both demand and the latest clinical requirements of a world leading medical facility. Other buildings nearby, but not contiguous, have already been included within the campus but suffer from the practical disadvantage of not being connected to the main building. HCA currently lease the second and third floors of 215 Great Portland Street (Great Portland House) for use as medical consulting. The aim of the footbridge is to form an easy internal connection between the two buildings which would radically improve the functionality and efficiency of the hospital and 215 Great Portland Street.
‘In essence the bridge has to perform 2 functions: span the distance between the two buildings and protect those who walk across it from the elements. A key premise of this proposal is that these two functions are not separated and that the structure forms an integral part in the creating of the enclosure.
‘The shape of the footbridge is relatively simple. In plan the midpoint is slightly wider than the endpoints, creating a cigar shape. The line of maximum width in turn corresponds with the façade line of the Mews building below, tying the two geometries together. In elevation the height also varies but with the maximum height at the ends and slimmest section at the mid-point / line of maximum width. The result, though essentially simple, has an intriguing complexity which changes when viewed from different angles. This exoskeleton of eight planes forms the primary structure of the footbridge. Equilateral triangle lattice trusses in turn form each plane with subtle dimensional changes following the changing cross-sectional form of the bridge. The gives a secondary, finer level of detail which adds richness to the overall design.
‘Within the exoskeleton the deck and roof of the walkway are simply supported off the structure and full height glazing forms the side walls. Sun shading and privacy are provided by the truss planes which will constructed from a combination of laminated timber and steel.’
Architects: William Matthews Associates
Location: Great Portland Street, London
Type Of Project: Footbridge
Structural Engineers: Structure Workshop [to be appointed]
Project Architect: Florian Ballan
Client: Hospital Corporation of America (HCA)
Planning supervisor: Rolfe Judd