Design and Build project, Commonage Summer School 2012
An additive system of construction was developed to allow participatory construction of this pedestrian bridge across a former millrace. Using small sections of green oak, the basic structural element is a single dowelled T-piece, manageable by a single person, which supports the horizontal members. An incremental process of construction – vertical t-section hammered in, followed by horizontal board, an alternating board-pole-board- pole method - allowed the bridge to be built using its own surface as the working platform. The technique also meant that the boards and poles could be aligned, spaced and leveled as the structure extended, giving the makers immediate design responsibility. The non-lineal placement of the poles allowed the structure to respond to its immediate surroundings and ground conditions, and to evolve through the construction process. Thus the processes of making/ assembly and design were linked allowing a deeper level of involvement for the participant.
The lightness and fineness of the green oak structure relates to the nature of the surrounding vegetation. With the openness of the traversed surface the vegetation beneath is tangible, and, with the slight movement in the structure, links the experience of walking on the bridge to the landscape, creating an emotive crossing-over experience.
Craftsman James Grace lent his knowledge and skills to the project.
Photographs LiD Architecture and Henrietta Williams