A public consultation will be launched next month on plans by Ney & Partners and Williams Matthews’ for a new £4 million footbridge at Tintagel Castle, north Cornwall
The Belgian civic engineering firm and the London-based architect saw off Niall McLaughlin, Marks Barfield, WilkinsonEyre, Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes and Jean-François Blassel Architecte to land the prize job in March (see AJ 23.03.16).
More than 130 entries were received in the contest, run by Malcolm Reading Consultants on behalf of English Heritage, with almost 40 per cent of submissions coming from overseas.
The new footbridge will link the ruins of the 13th-century coastal castle, the mythical home of King Arthur, and the nearby 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 studying Celtic history and the castle’s original drawbridge.
A planning application and an application for Scheduled Monument Consent are expected to be submitted early next year.
English Heritage’s project manager, Reuben Briggs, said: ‘We’re inviting everyone interested in this project to come and view the proposals, hear about the results of our investigations and have their say on our plans.
’We hope anyone with an interest in this project will join us to find out more and to share their thoughts with us.’
The public exhibition will be held between 11 and 12 December at Tintagel Castle ticket office and shop.
Interview with Laurent Ney and Matthieu Mallié from Ney & Partners
How do you feel when you heard you had won?
We were both surprised and very pleased. Designing a buildable bridge in such delicate environment is a big challenge. It was therefore far from obvious that we would find the right answer and win this competition, certainly after seeing the quality of the other entries. We have celebrated the news not only with the team who worked on the project but with the entire office.
Do you enter many competitions and what is your strategy for winning?
We take part in about 10 to 12 bridge competitions per year. We focus on two things: the specific requirements of the client and the context (the famous genius loci). We try to tailor an appropriate answer to these demands.
Tell us about your collaboration with William Matthews – how did you pick each other?
William, who has worked with Renzo Piano, called us last year to collaborate on a bridge competition in Parma, Italy. In the past, we had already try to get into the Italian market, which is quite difficult. However, the opportunity to work with an experienced British architect who knew the Italian context convinced us to give it a try. At the end, our proposal didn’t meet the expectations of the jury. The positive part was that the collaboration with William was very natural and enjoyable. When he called us to participate to the Tintagel Bridge competition, we said yes immediately.
’The delay between the jury presentation and the announcement of the winner felt interminable’
How did you find the contest arrangements?
The competition was very well organised. The brief was very clear and left us enough freedom to look for innovative solutions. The communication was also professionally handled by all parties, which is a good thing and not always the case. The delay between the jury presentation and the announcement of the winner felt interminable but that is probably because we are so excited about this project.
There’s been some concern about the ‘Disneyfication’ of this elemental site – will your bridge satisfy the critics?
Working in such a historically important context requires sensitivity. The new bridge will improve access to the headland for visitors but our intention is that it integrates in the landscape, without becoming the focal point of the composition.
What advice do you have for architects wanting to work on bridges?
Matthieu Mallié, the project director for Ney & Partners, is a structural engineer; William Matthews is an architect with a great understanding of structures; and Laurent Ney is both an architect and engineer: this explains our collaboration. We are all used to combining both disciplines and we prefer to use the description of ‘structure designer’ rather than ‘engineer’ or ‘architect’. The process must be an equal marriage between the disciplines, as opposed to one dictating to the other.