Tower Bridge has unveiled two new glass floors across its high-level walkways, enabling visitors to view a bridge lift from a wholly new and unique perspective. Purcell were the architects responsible for introducing the glass floors into the Grade I listed structure and improve the accessibility of Tower Bridge.
The £1m scheme, spearheaded by Bridge House Estates and the City of London Corporation, coincides with the 120th birthday year of the opening of Tower Bridge. The Tower Bridge exhibition first opened in 1982, and the project has enabled its refurbishment, while the new glass floors provide an exciting addition to a remarkable historic landmark.
The bridge, which took eight years to build, was conceived and constructed by the architect Sir Horace Jones and civil engineer Sir John Wolfe Barry and the original steel lattice structure has been conserved under glass panels weighing 530 kilograms each. There are two glass floors comprised of six panels, 11.5metres long and 1.8metres wide, supported by a 1000 kilogram carbon steel framework. Standing 42 metres above the Thames, visitors can now view the bridge and the lifting process from a completely different angle.
The project took a great deal of sensitivity in order to create spaces within the structure for the glass panels to sit. Over the last year Purcell has been working on the project, from writing the heritage statement to acting as architectural consultants on the design. Two identical planning and listed building consent applications were submitted to Tower Hamlets and Southwark as the bridge straddles the two borough boundaries. The boundaries crossing over the Thames highlights the important historic role the bridge has had in connecting London together and creating a national landmark.
Along with the opening of the walkways, Tower Bridge Exhibition is also launching an augmented reality app for smart devices entitled ‘the Raise Tower Bridge App’. The free app gives visitors a full 360-degree panoramic video of the Bridge being raised through an augmented reality window in the glass. The app coupled with the new glass floor is expected to up visitor numbers from the current 600,000 per year.
Associate, Martin Dunseath from Purcell said:
“Purcell is delighted to have contributed to such a unique project that is visionary in all senses of the word. The ‘unseen before’ view adds another dimension to peoples understanding of the iconic bridge and the wider context of London.”