British firm Knight Architects and structural engineers AKT II have completed a kinetic footbridge in Paddington’s Merchant Square that opens and closes like a traditional Japanese fan.

Five steel beams make up the bridge’s structure, cantilevering over the 20-metre wide Grand Union Canal.

Hydraulic jacks enable the beams to rise and fall in a staggered sequence, creating a fan-like effect that allows boats to pass along the canal when it is open and pedestrians to cross the waterway when it is closed.

The heavy beams are balanced by a 40-ton counterweight that stabilizes the hydraulic mechanism and reduces the energy needed to move the structure.

Handrails made from inclined stainless steel rods run along either side of the three-metre wide deck and feature a built-in strip of LED lighting to illuminate the crossing at night.

The bridge is part of a wider regeneration of the Merchant Square area, a project that includes the construction of gardens, event spaces and six new buildings around the waterside plaza.

Merchant Square footbridge by Knight Architects

Courtesy Dezeen