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Designer proposes modern rolling bridge cranked by hand

A new vision for a traditional bridge

Rendering of a small bridge. A man kneels to take a photo on one side of the water. Thomas Randall-Page

Centuries ago, during the height of early engineering, bridges were considered technical marvels (they often still are). “Rolling bridges,” also called retractable bridges or draw bridges, connected chasms between a narrow waterway without blocking boats’ paths.

Architect Thomas Randall-Page has envisioned a new type of rolling bridge that playfully adapts the original 18th-century vision, and he’s now raising money to build one. The architect designed the pedestrian bridge to cross a waterway at Cody Dock, a derelict industrial area in East London that organizations are eyeing to transform into a park.

Gif of people cranking a bridge Tim Allen

The painted steel bridge design is connected to the banks via teeth that hook into each other. Cranks on one side of the river turns the bridge on rails, creating a clever mechanical system that doesn’t need motors or electricity to move. “Rolling parallel to the channel it crosses, this design owes much to its Victorian forbears. They knew that moving large heavy structures efficiently requires that they are a balanced system and my design works on this same principle,” Randall-Page told Dezeen.

Right side up, the bridge has a simple flat span; inverted, the bridge creates an arch that will allow boats to pass through that channel for the first time in 50 years.

The crowdfunding campaign is currently just over 30 percent to its goal.