Artist’s impression of the glass bridge over Regent’s Canal
Below: Thomas Heatherwick and Robert Evans
Published: 27 July, 2012
by DAN CARRIER
IT was a revolutionary design set to bring a ‘wow factor’ to the King’s Cross railways lands development.
But the Tribune has learned that a £5million glass bridge designed by award-winning artist Thomas Heatherwick is going to gather dust on the drawing board following the cancellation of the project.
The bridge, made entirely of glass, would have used its own weight to stay rigid. It was due to cross the Regent’s Canal at Goods Way and into the new Granary Square area.
Commissioned in 2006, the design included internal lights that the developer claimed would make the bridge a destination in itself.
But due to the state of the economy, the bridge is no longer part of developer King’s Cross Central Partnership’s plans for the 67-acre site behind the station.
Chief executive Robert Evans told the Tribune the scheme had been dreamt up during the economic boom. When the concept seemed a perfect addition to the multi-billion pound development.
Mr Evans said: “In our master plan we envisaged a bridge there, and there still will be a pedestrian footbridge.
“In the heady years of 2006 to 2008 things seemed to be very different in terms of funding and before the full cost of the Heatherwick Bridge became known.”
He added: “It became prohibitive as it was considerably more than £5million, which is almost as much as Granary Square itself.”
According to Mr Heatherwick’s studio website, the plan was for “a bridge made of glass with no metal fixings. As one of the principal qualities of glass is its high compressive strength, the proposal is to take sheets of glass and use gravity to apply sufficient pressure to compress them together to act as a beam.”
The design would have used 1,334 sheets of glass squashed together. Lighting from within would have created a spectacular optical effect.
Mr Heatherwick’s pavilion for the UK at the Beijing Expo made him a global name. His works are currently being celebrated at an exhibition at the V and A.
The need for another entry point into Granary Square, which sits in front of the new University of the Arts, is no longer clear, added Mr Evans.
However, Mr Heatherwick could still be involved in creating a pedestrian bridge. Mr Evans said: “There is currently no need for another bridge into the square, but after 2015 we will have another look at it.
“There will still be a bridge and we still want it to be something a bit different, and one option would be for him to do something else for us.
“We’d still like him to do it, but it won’t happen as we first thought. He had this idea and suggested we use it across the canal. He is a world-class designer and very much part of the King’s Cross area.”
A spokesperson for Heatherwick Studios said: “The economic crisis has made a project like this that bit harder to make happen.
“We have a fantastic relationship with Argent [the King’s Cross developer] and they are committed to working on something with us, whether or not it is a glass bridge.”