The unassuming suburb of East Ham in the borough of Newham in the east end of London is not the place you would expect to find a national design award winner, but this unique pedestrian bridge has won the recent Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Structural Steel and Building Construction Industry Award.
The task was simple enough, to build a pedestrian bridge linking two school buildings across a busy road, and the result could have been a functional steel corridor. Newham Council, however, is not afraid of new ideas. It is, after all, the borough that gave us the ExCel Centre and Canary Wharf.
Architects Birds Portchmouth Russum (BPR) have introduced an element of theater to the area, with a snake-like blue and white structure meandering across the river of traffic.
Does this sound too dramatic? When you turn the corner from East Hamís underground station into Plashet Grove, you are presented with something adventurous and playful, yet not too out of place. It brightens up and enhances the community.
The structure is clad in a low-cost, low-maintenance, translucent white Teflon fabric covering, stretched over a series of T-section galvanized steel hoops. Mid-span is a steel-clad section containing two recessed bays. This is a viewing gallery overlooking the road.
Not yet listed in tourist guidebooks, the Plashet Grove Pedestrian Bridge is definitely worth a visit if you are looking for adventurous yet practical architecture.
From East Ham, London