Sylvania Way ‘Swan’ Bridge
The Sylvania Way Bridge spans the Forth & Clyde canal within Clydebank town centre. The existing 25 year old metal latticework canopy was frequently criticised for being ‘unsightly’. 60 architects were challenged to design an iconic tensile fabric structure – the winning design by RMJM became known as the Swan and was realised by Fabric Architecture.
The challenge was to create an engineered tensile fabric structure spanning 40m that was both beautiful and sustainable. In addition to the large span, rainwater management and a drainage system needed to be incorporated for all weather protection. Due to the size of the structure, the fabric canopy was assembled onto its frame off site and then lifted in place by a 120 tonne crane.
Architect Neil McLean explains that ‘inspiration for the canopy was a swan in flight over the canal, with two long cantilevering wing spans emerging from a central supporting steel structure.’ The ‘Swan’ structure represents the natural environment of the river, canal and mudflats downstream. Practical realisation of the concept was vital to the success of the project and the design team worked hard to realise the architect’s vision.