Hull’s new Scale Lane Bridge by McDowell+Benedetti swings into life
Santiago Calatrava doesn’t have the monopoly on elaborate bridges. Here in the UK, the birthplace of industrial engineering, there’s been recent resurgence in quirky solutions that translate the act of crossing water into an elaborate performance. Thomas Heatherwick’s compact Rolling Bridge in the Paddington Basin, the incredible Falkirk Wheel boat lift in Scotland and Wilkinson Eyre’s ’winking’ Millennium Bridge in Gateshead, from 2002, all showed new ways of adding function to an ancient archetype.
Now there’s another to add to the roster. The Scale Lane Bridge is a structure that swings, literally, pivoting about a riverside axis to let small watercraft pass along the River Hull. Designed by architects McDowell+Benedetti in association with structural engineers Alan Baxter & Associates, the new bridge is set amidst a formerly abandoned industrial site in Hull town centre. A slinky piece of regeneration bait, the Scale Lane Bridge is the last piece in a pedestrian jigsaw that’ll link up the city’s museums and keep feeding a constant stream of people into the new sites.
The bridge is shaped like a bulky comma, with twin routes along its 35m cantilever - a ramp and steps - as well as a circular viewing deck, turning the entire structure into a destination in its own right. It also has a party piece; it can open and close with a full quota of ’riders’, moving slowly enough to allow more people to board from the west bank. It takes two minutes for the electrical operation to work its magic, a short ride that the city hopes will bring about a larger transformation.