An important piece of Wichelstowe’s District Centre jigsaw was slotted into place yesterday (18 March) courtesy of a giant crane.
The new footbridge was lifted into position across the Wilts and Berks Canal and will form an important link between the Waitrose store and the new Hall and Woodhouse pub.
The huge structure, which measures 35m in length and weighs a whopping 28 tonnes, was delivered to the site by police escort over a week ago, but its installation was put on hold due to high winds.
Designed by public artist Sebastien Boyeson, in partnership with civil engineers Peter Brett Associates, the bridge was identified in the plans for the Canalside area as the perfect location for a piece of public art.
The bridge design includes ornate laser cut steel panels interspersed with coloured resin which will reflect the sunlight during the day and be illuminated at night by feature lights set within the handrail.
Councillor Gary Sumner, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, said: “The installation of the footbridge is the culmination of two years’ work from the planning and design stage through to the military-like organisation to not only get it here by lorry, but to then lift it into place by crane today.
“This bridge will provide an important link for pedestrians and will also act as the centrepiece for the stunning canal-inspired development the Council has created here at Wichelstowe.
“The new Hall and Woodhouse pub is now open and with the footbridge now in place, people can now really start to see the District Centre taking shape.”
Speaking about the design of the footbridge Sebastien Boyesen said: “I wanted to come up with a concept informed by the local surroundings, the wildlife and flora, holding a memory of what could have been found in the Wichelstowe of the past - a secret history.
“The casual observer would be unaware of the beautiful flowering plants that would once have proliferated on the site, such as the Horseshoe Vetch and Bath Asparagus. By creating graphic designs based on these, and other plants, it is hoped that the bridge will serve as a daily reminder of nature’s abundance and the site-specific references.
“It is my intention that the Wichelstowe footbridge contributes to the sense of place and ownership for the residents of the new development, creating something that is both beautiful and functional.”
Dan Hayes, Director of Civil Engineering at Peter Brett Associates said: “During the design process our engineers used their technical expertise to bring Sebastien’s ideas to life and develop a simple and elegant structural design, which fulfilled the challenge of arching over the canal on a skewed angle whilst retaining the headroom clearance for canal boats and pedestrians along the towpath.”
The new footbridge will officially be opened to the public over the coming weeks.