The Loop | UK

Salford Bridge Design Competition

Location: Salford, UK

Time: 2013

Team: Tao Zheng, Fernie Lai, Carolyn Leung

A circle, a ring, a loop, a symbol representing cycles; Cycles of life, of city, of people, of natural progressions; The perfect shape, with no corners, sides or angles, without beginning or end; The symbol for unity and continuation, the perfect iconic representation for bridging the urban and natural landscape and better linking cities.
The Loop Bridge is located at the tip of Meadows Park, re-linking the Crescent. It is part of a bigger city scheme to create a pedestrian link from Manchester to the University grounds and Peel Park. Counteracting the inaccessibility of the Meadows, and reactivating the small piece of nature within the city. The location of the Loop Bridge is also a nice intermediate addition to the many existing landmarks along the Crescent.
The concept stems from imagining the dual action between the urban and the natural landscape. Rather than creating a third element that connects the two, the urban and natural landscape extends beyond its own territories and re-merges to form the loop. The loop acts as an extension of both, blurring the boundary between the two. The slippage forms a perfect circle as an iconic symbol of renewal, while creating the opportunity for a full 360 degrees of visual portals.
The traffic on the bridge is one-way on either side, forming a clockwise loop. Each direction consists of a slow zone and a fast zone. The fast zone is within the inner loop bypassing meandering pedestrians within the outer loop. Intermediate openings and seating areas are created against the outside balustrade for the lingering wanderers. The undulating balustrade acts as a vision guide by strategically blocking and revealing key sights. From the meadows, it contrasts the urban landscape with its organic form mimicking mountainscapes. And from the city, the iconic ring balances on its two ends. The materials are carefully chosen to create the experience of the sidewalk extending pass the road and onto the bridge, a natural indicator to guide pedestrians. On the other side, the grass invades the bridge as an extension of nature from the Meadows Park.
The height difference from the two riverbanks allows for the opportunity to create a stepping landscape into an outdoor theatre, for performances and other festivities. The Loop has multiple potentials as well during such activities: the inside of the Loop forms a natural frame allowing for light or other promotional installations; a stretched fabric within the Loop for the summer outdoor movie; or even a floating stage inside for complementary performances to the bigger outdoor stage.
The Loop will become a place of attraction, a place of gathering. The symbolic circle draws energy to the city, reconnecting forgotten connections.