Competition win: Ney & Partners to build bridge for crumbling castle linked to tales of King Arthur

by Kim Megson | 30 Mar 2016

English Heritage have announced the architectural team led by Ney & Partners have won the design competition to build a new footbridge at Cornwall’s Tintagel Castle, a site long associated in the UK with the legend of King Arthur.

The firm beat 136 others – including shortlisted firms Wilkinson Eyre, Marks Barfield Architects and Niall McLaughlin Architects – in the two-stage international design concept competition to secure the commission for the £4m project.

The winning concept – which was developed in collaboration with William Matthews Associates, whose eponymous principal was lead architect on The Shard in London – was praised by competition organiser Malcolm Reading for its “elegant, delicate profile and structural ingenuity,” which is inspired by castle’s original drawbridge.

The design is based on two cantilevers and proposes a gap between the two. According to the architects, the space “represents the transition between the mainland and the island, here and there, the present and the past, the known and the unknown, reality and legend; all the things that make Tintagel so special and fascinating."

The crossing will be built using local slate and contrasting weathered and non-weathered steel to allow sunlight to play on the structure, “giving it an ephemeral quality and allowing the bridge to harmonise with the coastal landscape.”

The bridge will restore an accessible link to the 13th century castle; a heritage attraction which sits on a jagged rock outcrop currently only accessible by a long stair climb.

Now mostly ruins, the castle is among the remains of a much earlier and more extensive settlement, dating from the fifth to seventh centuries when Cornish rulers lived and traded with far off shores, importing exotic goods and trading tin.

The bridge will be used as an educational tool, helping tourists to better understand the site’s history – which is also entwined with legendary tales of King Arthur – while also helping to conserve and protect the surrounding landscape.

“We believe the experience of visiting Tintagel Castle is all about discovery and revelation, so it is important to us that our bridge lets the majesty of the site do the talking, that it is not too intrusive,” said the studio’s MD Laurent Ney. “Just as a good art museum recognises that the art is greater than the building, so the new bridge needs to make the visitor’s reading of Tintagel – its history and cultural power – as strong as possible.”

Jury chair Graham Morrison said: “This is a strong and confident concept design with a thoughtful geometry that meets the demanding, multi-faceted brief. In the end, the jury was persuaded as much by the technical assurance of Ney’s proposal, and its buildability, as its aesthetics and sensitivity to the exceptional setting.”

Ney and Partners – who have previously built a footbridge to encircle the UNESCO World Heritage site at Smedenpoort Gate in Bruges – will now work with English Heritage to develop the final design.

Design competition  Ney & Partners  English Heritage  Tintagel Castle  Cornwall  Malcolm Reading  King Arthur 
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English Heritage have announced the architectural team led by Ney & Partners have won the design competition to build a new footbridge at Cornwall’s Tintagel Castle, a site long associated in the UK with the legend of King Arthur. The firm beat 136 others – including shortlisted firms Wilkinson Eyre, Marks Barfield Architects and Niall McLaughlin Architects – in the two-stage international design concept competition to secure the commission for
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The design is based on two cantilevers and proposes a symbolic gap between the two / MRC/Ney & Partners/Emily Whitfield-Wicks
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