Moxon Architects have completed Castle Green Bridge, located in the grounds of a scheduled ancient monument, in the market town of Taunton. The Bridge has been shortlisted for a BCIA [British Construction Industry Award] as well as being shortlisted for an RIBA award and was the winner of the ACE [Association of Consulting Engineers] ‘Constructing Excellence Award’.
The Castle Green Bridge is one of three bridges designed by Moxon Architects and Flint and Neill Engineers that intend to be a coherent family of infrastructure and is the first to be completed. This pedestrian bridge streamlines the routes from Taunton Green and through the adjacent Goodland Gardens and by doing so increasing legibility of the site, improving the quality of public space, linking the castle and river with nearby retail and redevelopment. The design is intended to be deferential to the Grade 1 listed medieval castle which is now the Museum of Somerset.
It combines the solution to a geometric problem of accessibility (gradients) with a subtle response to the dominant buildings that form its context. Working within strict site constraints the Castle Green Bridge connects Castle Green with Goodland Gardens, climbing 1.8m along its length to provide a fully DDA compliant link in place of the convoluted and restrictive pathway that previously existed on the site. As a result the old unsafe route to the riverside has been replaced by a new bridge accessible to all. The main hard and soft spaces on and adjacent to the bridge provide a flush, clutter and kerb free experience and Taunton now has a dynamic, multi functional civic space at the town centre for the first time in eighty four years and the bridge is instrumental in providing this.
The trajectory of the bridge is gently curved, subtly yielding to the South West Tower of the Castle but maintaining a direct and simple route from one end of the site to the other. The deck is tapered to mitigate between the contrasting conditions at either end of the bridge. The false perspective set up by the taper, combined with the gentle curve, is contrived to visually shorten the uphill journey to the square while apparently prolonging the downhill stroll into the gardens. Key aspects of the design include a simple geometry that genuflects to the castle, the flexible placement of piers that have avoided disturbance to individual burial sites (which include of Saxon burials and the potential remains of a medieval church) beneath the bridge and materials and finishes that have been selected for clarity and high quality. The result is a scheme that has minimal impact on archaeology, whilst revealing the potential of the heritage assets.
In constructional terms the design is developed from a cross sectional principle whereby a flat soffit is combined with a shallow inverted ‘V’ to describe a concrete structure with a very narrow edge profile. This in turn carries the deck surfacing of stone and glazing, with glass parapets contained within a protective band of steel on all exposed edges. The central wearing surface of porphyry stone has been selected to complement the hard landscaping throughout the wider landscaping scheme, while the sides of each bridge are formed by glass on the deck surface and on the lower portion of the parapet edge – creating a translucent ‘volume’ of glass that minimises the visual mass during the day and is the source of all lighting for the bridges at night.
Moxon Architects are based in London and Scotland. Their overriding ambition is to bring architectural intelligence to bear on as wide a range of projects as possible, irrespective of scale or budget. To this end the practice actively pursues work in markedly different fields – current clients include organizations as varied as Somerset County Council, The Arts Council England and The Royal Parks Foundation. In all instances we consciously attempt to apply imagination and enthusiasm; expressly not for the sake of novelty or uniqueness; but in order to provide our clients with the best and most appropriate design work that we can achieve.Location: Taunton, UK Architect: Moxon Architects Ltd. Project name: Castle Green Bridge
Stage: Completed Structural Engineer: Flint and Neill
Lighting Design for bridges: Moxon Architects Ltd.
Landscape Architect [for wider scheme]: LDA Design
Contractor: Britannia Construction
Project Manager: Peter Brett Associates Photos: Simon Kennedy