Green light for Knight Architects and WSP’s timber-clad pedestrian and cycle bridge across River Usk

Knight Architects and WSP have been awarded planning permission for a timber-clad pedestrian and cycle bridge across the River Usk in South Wales.

The new structures will connect the town of Abergavenny and the village of Llanfoist, currently served by a narrow, Grade II* listed highway bridge of medieval origins.

Knight Architects and WSP, commissioned by Monmouthshire County Council, have designed a quieter and safer route which will cross the river 100m downstream of the existing bridge.

The bespoke 61m long, glue-laminated footbridge is situated in an environmentally sensitive location and required innovative engineering to address the ecological and heritage constraints of the scheme. WSP has provided a sustainable structure that has been designed to be robust and resilient on a floodplain that is subjected to regular flooding.

Steve Heaney, Project Manager at WSP, said: “It is with much excitement for those involved in the design, but more importantly the public and stakeholders, that we can now advance into the next steps of delivery after being unanimously granted planning permission.

“One of our key objectives of the project was to deliver a solution which will promote active travel for the local community and also address the onerous conditions which the public currently face. We can now look forward to moving towards construction of this architecturally elegant, innovative and functional footbridge.”

It comprises a two-span through beam (25m + 36m) with a timber and stainless-steel deck that has a 3m wide U-shaped cross section. These side beams also act as parapets and are protected with a geometric timber protective cladding that adds architectural interest in close views.

An intermediate concrete support pier with four stainless steel arms combines a sculptural elegance with a hydrodynamic shape, acting as an efficient cutwater to the significant flood waters which can be experienced along the Usk Valley. The approach ramps are designed as smooth green embankments that appear as a natural alteration of the existing topography, raising the bridge structure above the flood water levels.

Engineering and professional services consultancy WSP collaborated closely with Knight Architects on the scheme. The design process has involved a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment, extensive consultation with the public and stakeholders including Design Commission for Wales, complex hydrological assessments as well as the structural design of a unique and challenging structure.

Knight Architects’ associate, Héctor Beade-Pereda, said: “This project is particularly exciting for us as it will not only provide a greatly improved crossing route for the local communities, but will be an elegant, understated structure clad in timber – such a versatile material that is often underused in contemporary bridge structures. We wanted to ensure that the bridge will offer a harmonious addition to the sensitive setting, as well as being a functional structure which addresses the tricky site conditions and provides a more appropriate amenity for users.”

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