Maid of the Bridge

Maid of the Bridge

The Maid of the Bridge is a striking, abstract sculpture that’s literally ‘made’ of a bridge. Overlooking the new park in Bath Riverside, the artwork is constructed from wrought iron salvaged from the restoration of the Grade II listed Victoria Bridge. Buro Happold collaborated with local artist, Anna Gillespie, to reincarnate the historically-valuable scrap metal into an elegant work of public art.

Challenge

Our main challenge was to investigate whether wrought iron can be used as a sculptural material. We tested its durability and limitations and explored tapping and drilling as ways to safely secure the structure in place. It was critical for us to ensure our solutions upheld the integrity of the artist’s concept at every stage.

Maid of the Bridge sculpture being admired by onlookers in Bath
Inspired by the river Avon, The Maid of the Bridge appears to direct it on its journey to the sea. Image Buro Happold

Solution

We produced a 3D model of the sculpture to research the mechanical properties of wrought iron. This helped us understand how the piece would respond to action and movement. We recommended the best way to fix the sculpture’s pieces together was to drill and tap the bolts into the plates. We positioned the bolted connections to be both structurally sound and fit the aesthetic requirements.

While researching for this project, we also created an in-depth testing programe at the University of Bath. The results are due to be published and will shape the way wrought iron is used in future.

Literally ‘made’ of the bridge. Image: Buro Happold

Value

Constructed from regenerated Victorian iron, the Maid of the Bridge embodies and celebrates the area’s industrial past. The sculpture enriches the riverside walk and delivers the artist’s vision to “Create connections between past and present, between land and the river.”

Maid of the bridge sculpture in bath

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