24 April 2019
sponsored by Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield
Taplow Bridge - submitted by Land & Water Services
Innovation is today’s ‘buzz word’, but in civil engineering terms it usually means a new product or piece of equipment. However, innovation to Land & Water is not only the bespoke equipment it commissions (such as the first amphibious long reach excavator introduced to the UK) but the solutions it finds to solve complex challenges for its clients.
Major developer, Berkeley Homes, had secured land on the River Thames in Taplow, Berkshire, for a new housing development. As part of this development Berkeley Homes wanted to improve connectivity across the River Thames to the new development.
Due to the complexities of the site, Land & Water was approached at the feasibility stage to help develop a construction methodology to deliver a new footbridge spanning 35 meters across the River Thames. The new bridge was designed to reach from the west bank of the River Thames to Ray Mill Island in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. Access via land was not possible to the west bank, so solutions were required to construct the west abutment solely from the River and to install the iconic Knight Architect inspired bridge from the water.
Land & Water provided a solution to construct the west abutment from the River side and a plan to ‘float’ the bridge structure upstream from another site. Whilst Land & Water has installed bridges and constantly work around waterways, floating a bridge structure upstream and into position had never been attempted before. Land & Water had the expertise to succeed and the company’s proven track record acted as a key deciding factor for the client.
This project is an example of innovative problem solving in order to find a way to install the bridge that seemed fraught with problems due to its location. In fact, it may not have happened without this installation method.
Risk is a factor that ‘can’ restrict innovation. The reluctance to try new ways of doing things and embracing risk to manage it, rather than shying away from it, can be difficult to foster.
This project held a huge amount of risk for the contractor with only a 4mm tolerance allowed when placing a flexing bridge structure onto solid abutments from a floating platform.
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The SECBE 2019 Civils Project of the Year Award is sponsored by Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield.