Friday, October 7th, 2022

River Hull Footbridge

River Hull Footbridge, also known as Scale Lane Bridge is built on River Hull, England is one of a kind, unique bridge which allows people to ‘ride’ on it as it opens. The bridge provides a new passage that connects the main city centre and Old Town Conservation Area to The Deep on the east bank of the River Hull.

An innovative swing bridge, River Hull Footbridge looks like a giant apostrophe which swings open to make way for passing river traffic. Its black steel appearance and distinct robust form makes it a remarkable landmark, reflecting Hull’s industrial and maritime heritage.


A 2005 International Design Competition resulted in this bridge’s initiation. The idea was to build a bridge that would become a celebrated landmark, increase connectivity across the city, unlock growth potential and increase the use of the river frontage. The idea was also to require navigation permissions continued at all times for small boats and the bridge to be able to open for larger vessels.


The bridge comprises of a falcate steel spine bracketing from a three-dimensional braced ring that is approximately 15m in diameter. The amalgamated structure of the steel spine consists of the root section conceived as a diagrid/shell and the tip as a shell. Surface of the walkways are blanketed by steel plates while horizontal bracing provides additional longitudinal stiffness.

The core structure consists of columns connected to horizontal steel wheel structures forming both levels of the three-dimensional ring. The circular hub component acts as a counterbalance to the cantilever section with concrete slabs at both levels.

It is supported vertically on a central pintle or hinge as many say it and six single and four double wheel assemblies running on a flat circular track, secured to a drum supported on 1.6m diameter 30m long piles. Three electric bevel gear units drive the bridge which pivots around a central slew bearing.

The bridge was fabricated in sections at Qualter Hall’s works using temporary support jigs to replicate the finished shape, and trial assembled before transport to site. On-site, the sections were welded together to form the whole bridge structure before being lifted into position in a single operation.


The bridge is operated from a radio pendant. The entire process takes around 2 minutes as the bridge operator closes a gate at the East bank activating the bridge to open. No barriers are present on the West bank letting people get on and off easily during the motion without either disturbing the bridge’s movement or losing their own time. Rotation speed is slow of the bridge – less than 0.15m/sec,) so can be stepped across safely.


The apostrophe shape of the bridge creates two different routes across the bridge: First is a slight slope stretching along the outer edge; while the second is a stepped pathway that runs along the inside. A raised ridge bisects the two routes, creating a seating area overlooking the water as well as a lighting feature. The circumvolution is a single- storey drum, which consists of a restaurant and a viewing platform on the roof. The bridge’s under body is gradually narrowed upwards allowing smaller vessels to pass through without opening the bridge.


Artist Nayan Kulkarni provided with a beautiful installation comprising ringing bells and blinking lights which gets activated when the bridge starts to move. As per the designers, these features add up to the excitement of the ride and also act as an alert system for the pedestrians about the upcoming rotation of the bridge.

During the night, fluorescent lights in the parapet posts enhance the bridge’s profile and adds to the radiance of the riverscape.


The River Hull Footbridge is a recipient of multiple awards:
» BD Infrastructure Architect of the Year 2014
» World Architecture Festival Transport Award
» Civic Trust Award
» Special Award for Community Impact & Engagement
» AIA Excellence in Design Award
» RIBA Yorkshire Award
» Living Waterways Award
» Structural Steel Design Award
» Hull Civic Society Award
» Architectural Digest‘World’s 20 Most Impressive Pedestrian Bridges’

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