Cornwall Council has backed plans by Ney & Partners and William Matthews Associates for a £4 million footbridge at Tintagel Castle in north Cornwall
Backed by English Heritage, the new footbridge will link the ruins of the 13th-century castle, the legendary home of King Arthur, to the headland.
Ney and William Matthews’ winning design, which will stand 28m higher than the current crossing and span more than 70m, is based on two cantilevers and was inspired by studies of Celtic history and the castle’s original drawbridge.
The Belgian civic engineering firm and the London-based architect saw off Níall McLaughlin, Marks Barfield, WilkinsonEyre, Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes and Jean-François Blassel Architecte to land the prize job in early March (see AJ 23.03.16).
More than 130 entries were received in the contest, run by Malcolm Reading Consultants, with almost 40 per cent of submissions coming from overseas.
The plans were given the green light by the county council’s strategic planning committee, despite objections from The Cornwall Geoconservation Group, Cornish cultural organisation Gorsedh Kernow, campaign group Kernow Matters To Us, Natural England and the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Unit.
A final decision on the application will now be made by Sajid Javid, secretary of state for communities and local government.
Liz Page, English Heritage’s historic properties director for the West, said: ’The footbridge is an exciting and necessary addition to the site which will improve access, enjoyment and understanding of Tintagel Castle. Tintagel Parish Council supports this bridge, as do the Cornish Buildings Group, the Cornwall Archaeological Society, and Visit Cornwall, and we are grateful for their support and the support of others.
’The bridge will follow the original crossing between the mainland and island, help us to manage the pressure of visitors, and provide better access onto the island. Combined with the new footpaths, the bridge will also help us to protect important archaeological remains. The bridge has been designed to be an object of beauty, sensitively balanced with the surrounding landscape.’
At a height of roughly 55 metres above sea level, the proposed bridge consists of two independent cantilevers, each more than 30 metres in length, reaching out and touching, almost, in the middle. At the centre, a narrow gap between the cantilevers has been designed to offer visitors a sense of transition between the mainland and the island, the present and the past, as they step into the mysterious past that makes Tintagel so special.
Twelfth century writer Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote that the original land bridge to the island was so slight that ’three men shall be able to defend against the whole power of the kingdom’, and the bridge has been designed to be as slight as possible in order to reflect this historical land bridge and have the least possible impact in the landscape. The width of the bridge is just three metres, and this has been subjected to intensive wind-tunnel testing to ensure it can resist the strong winds which the north Cornwall coast regularly experiences.
The proposed bridge uses materials designed to be simple, durable, and appropriate to the context of the site, with a main structure in steel, handrails in oak and a deck surface made from Cornish Delabole slate. The slate deck would be interspersed with a pattern of quartzite tiles, designed to reflect the quartz intrusions seen on the Tintagel cliffs and the quartzite boulders that adorn the tops of the Cornish hedges in the area.
The bridge is part of a larger programme of landscape works, costing a total of around £4million. The programme of landscape works – which has also been considered as part of the planning application – would seek to improve the footpaths around the site, working with the proposed bridge to create step-free access to the castle’s island and limit the impact of visitors on Tintagel Castle’s unique archaeology and ecology.
General view of tintagel castle ¬ english heritage