AVA Bridge: a revolutionary new footbridge

Ava footpath Bridge Stainless Steel

An adaptable, low-carbon, pre-manufactured footbridge system that can be rolled out anywhere, from Liverpool to Los Angeles.

The brief asked for fully accessible footbridges that could be used across Britain’s rail network that were innovative, minimised whole life carbon emissions, challenged presumptions and raised expectations for the quality of future design.

Railway station footbridges provide essential access for passengers and often a crucial connection between neighbourhoods, but they are time-consuming, carbon intensive and expensive to build. Is there a more efficient way of procuring footbridges for use across the UK and beyond?

Recognising that railway stations – and access to them – are fundamental to building vibrant, local communities, Network Rail and Innovate UK assembled a team to design and build a revolutionary new footbridge, which could be rolled out over the network.

Up until now Network Rail has been constructing access-for-all footbridges which often take years to build; the brief for this bridge was for a flexible product that would improve connectivity while saving time, money and carbon.

The AVA bridge is being designed, manufactured, constructed, and marketed by a consortium as part of the TIES Living Lab programme, which is tasked with improving efficiency in the industry. The consortium is comprised of main partners Network Rail, Expedition Engineering, X-Treme Systems, MTC and Walker Construction, with key collaborators Hawkins\Brown, SCX, Atelier Ten, Quantum Infrastructure and the Norman Foster Foundation.

AVA is more than a bridge, it’s a system – a kit of parts that can be configured in a variety of ways, depending on where it is to be situated and the needs of the community that it will serve. It’s a new way to mass-produce bridges quickly and efficiently but great care has also been taken to ensure that it is a really well designed product that people will enjoy using for many years to come.

Each option, component and material has been tested against the opportunity to save whole life carbon. While upfront carbon has been reduced, by concentrating on replacement cycles overall embodied carbon will be significantly lower. In addition, the team have tested the operational energy use against the potential for on-site renewable energy generation

All AVA components (apart from the lifts) will be manufactured offsite in the same factory and assembled quickly and efficiently onsite, with minimal impact on the local environment. The structure is long lasting and low maintenance, comprising a light, robust stainless-steel structural frame and cladding system.

The state-of-the-art curved glass lifts have been designed from the ground up by SCX to be manufactured and assembled offsite, transported in one piece for a simply ‘plug and play’ installation onsite. Being powered by a dual drive system minimises downtime, which means lifts will be in service more often and the bridge is always accessible.

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