The Living Link

Structural Designer

Smith and Wallwork; Cambridge University, Department of Architecture

Client Name

The Woodland Trust; WREN (Waste Recycling Environmental)

Location

Cambridge, United Kingdom

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

This very small bridge is made from living willow branches planted in the ground and woven together in an ingenious solution for a structure that is constantly growing larger. The arch is formed from 16 willow poles, 40mm in diameter, planted in the ground and then smaller willow branches are wound between them to form a tight woven structure. The design was proven by test and calculation and construction involved 200 hours of volunteer work. The bridge incorporates about 250kg of willow and is expected to last between 12-15 years before it outgrows itself.

Judge's comment:

This is probably the first time that a living, growing structure has made it to the Structural Awards. The team devised an ingenious solution using a combination of practical experimentation with the living materials and theoretical design calculation to deliver an unusual, unique and economic bridge.