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Dukes Meadows Footbridge over the Thames

Laura Puttkamer

The Dukes Meadows Footbridge by Moxon Architects now connects two sections of the Thames Path, which follows the course of the river. 




A new footbridge along the banks of the Thames opened in London in early January. The Dukes Meadows Footbridge by Moxon Architects now connects two sections of the Thames Path, which follows the course of the river. In doing so, the new bridge passes under an older one.

A new bridge in Dukes Meadows

A new 115-metre footbridge has been built under the existing Barnes Bridge in the south-west London Borough of Chiswick. Moxon Architects designed it together with engineering firm COWI. The bridge was built by Knights Brown. It is a structure with a very low carbon footprint, which will connect a missing piece of the Thames Path. This path follows the Thames for almost 300 kilometres. The designers also hope that the bridge will dramatically improve the safety and accessibility of the area for pedestrians.

The Dukes Meadows Bridge is one of several projects in the Liveable Neighbourhood programme. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has allocated £53 million (just under €60 million) for the programme. The new bridge is part of the Hounslow borough’s efforts to improve infrastructure and leisure facilities in the area.

The Dukes Meadows Footbridge not only links two sections of the Thames Path, but also gives improved access to rowing clubs and riverside sports facilities. Previously, it was necessary to walk an extra 500 metres to get to the waterfront. At night, the bridge is well lit. It is also easily accessible for people with wheelchairs, prams, or mobility scooters.

The new Dukes Meadows Footbridge runs under the existing Barnes Bridge. Copyright: Simon Kennedy / Moxon Architects

Reduced CO2 emissions in bridge construction by Moxon Architects

For Moxon Architects, it was important to keep the CO2 emissions of the pedestrian bridge in Dukes Meadows as low as possible. Therefore, the components of the structure were prefabricated in Tilbury, Essex. This allowed the bridge to be transported and installed on the Thames. This reduced environmental impact and CO2 emissions. In addition, the footbridge features energy-saving lighting. It is designed to protect the ecosystem of the nearby Dukes Hollow green space.

The material of the Dukes Meadows Footbridge is robust stainless steel with aluminium. This means that the bridge can withstand future flooding. In addition, the architects foresee low maintenance. Overall, the structure should have a lifespan of over 100 years.

COWI’s CO2e tool shows that through the truss design, innovations in materials and construction techniques, a 50% reduction in the Dukes Meadows Bridge’s CO2 emissions was possible. This relates to the construction of the semi-continuous trusses with their distinctive elements that provide an angled view of the river. Overall, the techniques are said to have delivered a 30 per cent CO2 saving.

The bridge has a particularly low CO2 footprint. Copyright: Simon Kennedy / Moxon Architects

Upgrading Dukes Meadows

Another important concern in the construction of the Dukes Meadows Footbridge was the protection of the adjacent Dukes Hollow natural area. This is one of the few remaining tidal habitats in London. The bridge not only connects the surrounding area, but also considers the ecology of Dukes Hollow. This is achieved by the structure carefully reaching into the landscaped banks on either side of the existing Barnes Bridge.

The open truss bridges provide views of the dense vegetation. They can also be seen on the Barnes side of the river. The four slender spans of the bridge hug the bank and its line. They stand on discrete piers with a minimal surface area. The architects hope that the impact of the new pedestrian bridge will be felt far beyond the project.

Ezra Groskin, Director, Moxon Architects, said: “Our intention was to develop an affordable, efficient and honest solution that is easy to construct and pleasant to use. With its modest and refined appearance, the bridge respectfully blends in with the existing structure and references its form without courting attention.”

The architects emphasised the protection of Dukes Hollow. Copyright: Simon Kennedy / Moxon Architects

Opening in January 2023

The much-anticipated pedestrian bridge in Dukes Meadows opened in mid-January 2023, was going to open on 24 November 2022. However, there were several problems, notably pigeon droppings. In addition, handrails were missing, and a staircase still had to be rebuilt, which led to the delay.

The birds, which liked to perch on the Barnes Bridge and thus polluted the new footbridge, have now moved on to other places thanks to a net. They can no longer nest under the Barnes Bridge. Accordingly, a safe and clean opening in January 2023 was possible.

The Dukes Meadows Footbridge, also known as the Barnes Bridge Walkway, is now in daily use. It is one of the lowest carbon-emitting and most environmentally friendly bridges in the UK.

Moxon Architects have worked with many other major public sector clients. These include Transport for London and the new HS2 high-speed train, due to open in the UK at the end of the decade. The studio is always about bold vision combined with flexible use. Sustainability and aesthetics are the most important values for the company.

Read more: This city portrait of London gives an overview of other projects happening in the British capital.

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