Network Rail has appointed Arup to take forward the design of a visitor centre and bridge walk for one of Scotland’s most recognisable landmarks, The Forth Bridge.
The six-figure contract, which will develop detailed designs for a North Queensferry based visitor centre and lift and a South Queensferry based facility for bridge walkers, will see build-ready designs delivered by the middle of next year prior to a submission being made to local authorities for planning consideration.
Arup, an international engineering and design consultancy with an office in South Queensferry, will be supported by two local firms. WT Architecture, a South Queensferry based firm which developed early design concepts, will provide architectural advice and local knowledge. The Paul Hogarth Company, a landscaping firm also based in South Queensferry, will help develop the hard and soft landscaping plans for both locations.
David Dickson, Route Managing Director, Network Rail said:
“This is a significant investment in our vision for a groundbreaking new tourist attraction for Scotland. It demonstrates our commitment to further developing our visitor proposals during the Forth Bridge’s 125th anniversary year.
“The quality of submissions we received from our procurement process were of an exceptionally high standard, as you would expect with a landmark of such importance and prominence. Arup’s bid stood out for a number of reasons, not least due to the involvement of local firms which will help form a strong core for the design team.”
John Campbell, Arup’s Rail Business Leader in Scotland said:
“Arup are delighted to be awarded this prestigious contract and look forward to collaborating with Network Rail to successfully deliver a scheme in keeping with this iconic engineering structure.”
The contract will include designs for North Queensferry where proposals envisage visitors arriving via a landscaped shore side walk to a unique visitor centre building created under the northern Fife Tower. The visitor centre will offer education and exhibition facilities alongside catering, Forth Bridge themed retail and function options. The centre will be connected by a step-free ramp to two panoramic elevators on the eastern side of the bridge. The elevators will provide access to a viewing platform located dramatically at the top of the bridge, 110m above sea level.
The South Queensferry design brief envisages a visitor reception centre from which guided bridge walks for groups of up to 15 people begin. The walking route will pass along the south approach viaduct on a pre-existing walkway underneath the track, followed by a climb to the top of the southern Queensferry Tower using a walkway within the top cantilever.
Design services will include safety and security features, transport solutions and pedestrian access improvements. A separate element of work is being progressed at present to develop options for traffic management for both facilities.
Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, said:
“Next year, we will celebrate the 125th birthday of the Forth Bridge – a Scottish icon that is recognised around the globe. A new visitor centre, which would give people a unique opportunity to get up close to this stunning landmark, would be an exciting addition to this country’s wonderful array of world-class visitor attractions and has the potential to be a huge boost for tourism.”
Network Rail has also begun the process of seeking a partner organisation to help manage and operate the Forth Bridge Experience on its behalf. A Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) has been posted on the project website for interested parties.