Civil engineers Ney & Partners, together with London based architecture practice William Matthews Associates, have won the English Heritage competition for the footbridge on Cornwall's breathtaking Tintagel Castle site.

The historic structure attracts some 200,000 visitors annually and is one of the country's most spectacular historic sites. However improvements were needed in its approach. The new bridge is set 28m higher than the current crossing and is expected to 'transform the visitor experience', says the team.

The winning design beat off stiff competition from 136 other entries from all across Europe. The joint Ney-Matthews design prevailed due to its clever proposal. Instead of opting for a standard bridge crossing, this footbridge is designed as two independent cantilevers that reach out and almost touch in the middle – but not quite. An elegant, narrow gap at the centre of the bridge is no mean engineering feat, but this didn't stop the award-winning engineering practice, who have several bridge designs under their belt.

This powerful gesture is not just for show; it was driven by a strong concept. '[The gap] represents the transition between the mainland and the island, the Here and There, the Present and the Past, the Known and the Unknown, Reality and Legend: all the things that make Tintagel so special and fascinating', explains the architect.

The team ensured their design touches the ground as lightly as possible, and respects its important historical surroundings. At the same time, the simple, pared down aesthetic lends the structure a timeless quality. Steel, slate and oak will be the key materials used for the construction, creating a tactile, yet low maintenance environment.

During the crossing, visitors can admire long views of the castle and the area's breathtaking nature. The current schedule indicates full completion by spring 2019.