The Ribble Coast and Wetlands Regional Park has a wealth of significant but overlooked natural assets. To correct this and enhance the experience of this unique environment, we have seen the crossing of the Douglas as offering the following: an opportunity for a delightful experience for the users of the path, a place to observe the environment, an object to admire and a habitat for the ecosystem to colonise. To this end we have taken the route though an arbour of hazel and honeysuckle, with dappled light and glimpses through the foliage to the river and surrounding countryside. Buddleja and hawthorn are grown to give a variety of plants and colours and encourage birds and butterflies. From the river bank the bridge takes the form of “branches” growing out of masonry trunks to create arches. Hanging from these tree structures is a nest-like enclosure carrying the path. At the west end of the bridge the enclosure becomes an egg shaped nest secluded amongst the trees – a place to stop and view the locality, a hide, an information point.
The nest enclosures are formed from a grid mesh of 75 x 25 mm continuous finger-jointed timber slats woven with stainless steel cables. At 6 m centres along the length of the nest hoops of cables lock the grid and provide pick-up points to connect to the timber structure. The 4m wide path deck is constructed in ferro-cement around the steel cables. The upstand to the deck doubles as the hydroponic reservoir for the plants containing light expanded clay aggregate growing medium.
The arches are formed from bundles of coppiced timbers bound together to form arches 300 mm diameter at the centre tapering to 200 mm at the supports. 150 – 200 mm diameter timbers tie the arches across the width of the bridge at their base and the structure sits on circular gabion piers 12.5 m apart at 25 m.
Structural Engineers: King Shaw Associates
Cost consultant: Davis Langdon LLP
Computer Renderings: Tom Kaneko