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Sheppard's delight: in the beautiful Cornish setting, Sustrans' mission to make the landscape accessible is perfectly served by a new bridge.

Sustrans is the UK's leading sustainable transport charity, promoting a vision to see the world adopt methods of transport that benefit the health of individuals and the state of the environment. To date they have been extremely successful with award-winning initiatives, including the National Cycle Network. Safe Routes to School, and Bike It. In short, they are far more than a charity for weird cyclists. Commissioning artwork has also been part of their programme, bringing delight and spectacle to their expanding cycle network that in itself has restored, rejuvenated and reopened previously inaccessible parts of our landscape.

The William Cookworthy Bridge, while not pure art, is one such component, providing a valuable link in Clay Trails: part of the Network that includes 1.5km of paths over the former China Clay works in Cornwall, linking communities and visitors, and providing car-free access to the Eden Project (AR August 2001).

Designed by local architect David Sheppard, the bridge is much more than the metal object that we see. It is part of larger, integrated, sculpted landform, that makes a place within this very specific landscape. An elevated viewing platform acts as a fulcrum between land and bridge, turning the route through almost 90 degrees. The artificial embankment--formed from 10 000 tons of 'stent' quarry waste--ascends to the pivot point, recalling the monumental scale of earth movement and sculpting that is characteristic of this area; a place where industry has brought a very specific identity.

The bridge itself appealed to the Jury due to its physical and notional straightforwardness; a quality that is evident in the architect's description: a simply supported box girder, 25m in span. 2.5m wide and 450mm deep, with a 1.4m high parapet for horses and cyclists. It is beautifully simple, and the distinctive vertical fins, set at 100mm centres, discourage climbing toddlers, and play with the moire effect, causing the bridge's visual mass to change when seen in motion. It is a wonderful addition within a unique landscape, and a fitting memorial to the 300th anniversary of the man who founded Cornwall's China Clay industry. William Cookworthy. R. G.

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Publication:The Architectural Review
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 1, 2005
Words:359
Previous Article:Bridging the gap: hand built by volunteers, this new structure in China bridges more than a physical gap.
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