Waterside Campus Foot and Cycle bridge

University of Northampton

location | Waterside Campus, Northampton  year | 2018   

The innovative design emerged as a direct response to the considerable site constraints, including spanning an existing towpath, lock gate and weir and maintaining a navigable channel to access the marina. Consequently, the bridge – fully accessible for all - follows an elegant double curvature ‘S’ planform and is supported over its 180m length at only 5 points. An FSC certified hardwood ribbed deck is supported on a series of rhythmic cantilevered offset raking Corten steel supports that snake their way across the waterway and through the trees. The bridge – constructed by Volker Fitzpatrick - was manufactured off site in approx. 30m long sections, transport to site and craned into position to minimise disruption and time on site and achieve a high-quality product.

In addition, as the River Nene is a sensitive ecological corridor – including foraging bats, otters etc - low-level lighting has been carefully integrated into the handrail, operated on presence detectors, balancing safety, security and ecological requirements.

The project was only made possible through thorough extensive external stakeholder consultations including community meetings, marina representatives, the Environment Agency, local wildlife groups and English Nature and Friends of Becket’s Park.  

MCW Architects, in collaboration with CH2M (now Jacobs) Engineers, have completed a new river crossing connecting the new University of Northampton’s Waterside with the town centre.

Waterside has created a new ‘place’ for Northampton transforming 55 acres of derelict brownfield site to a new open campus. The new 3.5m wide shared foot and cycle bridge delivers a long-desired link between the town centre and Becket’s Park across the River Nene through the Waterside campus to Delapre Abbey and country park to the south. In addition to providing a direct link for students and staff into the town, the bridge encourages the community to interact with the University. The bridge is fully open to the community offering dramatically changing river views and creating a circular riverside walk. It brings an influx of economic and cultural benefits; not only through increased spending in local business, but also through student-led community projects. It is an enabler for the town to fully embrace the many ways the University can help to revitalise Northampton.

In summary, this innovative bridge design provides a dramatic arrival onto the campus for students and staff, delivers a critical piece of town infrastructure and establishes a new place for Northampton.