WT Architecture has revealed plans to build a viewing platform on top of Scotland’s landmark Forth Bridge
The practice, which has been working on a number of feasibility studies for project backer Network Rail, is also proposing a new glass lift up the side of the 100m-tall bridge and a visitor centre at North Queensferry, underneath the northern Fife Tower.
The visitor centre is being described as a ‘discreet building’ housing a café, shop and exhibition facilities and would be connected by ‘a step-free ramp’ to two lifts on the eastern side of the bridge. The lifts would link up to the viewing platform.
As part of the £15 million project, there are also plans for a reception centre at South Queensferry for those taking on the Bridge Walk from the southern shore - ‘a three hour round trip to the top of the south tower’.
Practice founder William Tunnell said: ‘The proposal is all about the bridge not the buildings, but to allow that the additions have to be exceptionally good and sensitive architecture. They won’t be look-at-me-buildings, there is already a look-at-me bridge. It is about maximising the experience of the bridge for visitors.’
David Simpson, of Network Rail Scotland, said: ‘While these plans are still at development stage, we believe that the options we have revealed today can be delivered without impacting the well-loved view of the bridge.
‘Any infrastructure on the bridge will be less visible than the existing scaffold platform and all buildings designs will be of premium quality.’
Network Rail said it would now start developing the designs ‘in consultation with the relevant authorities and local communities’ and that the scheme could be at least partially finished by 2015 in time for the bridge’s 125th anniversary.
Facts and figures:
Bridge walk from the South Queensferry side of the bridge
It is estimated there is a minimum requirement for a 750m² visitor hub which would provide a reception space for people departing on a bridge walk
It is estimated that the bridge walk could attract between 75,810 and 126,350 visitors per year on a sustainable basis.
Visitor centre at North Queensferry - estimated visitor numbers
It is estimated that the visitor centre and lift could attract between 136,910 and 230,162 visitors per year on a sustainable basis. Of these, there could be 78,895 to 133,472 visitors paying an admission fee to use the lift to visit the viewing platform. Visitors who do not pay for the tour can visit the other facilities in the visitor centre.