August 07, 2019
This miraculously slight structure, like a pair of high-diving boards meeting in the middle, reconnects Cornwall with the legendary Arthurian ruins – and Merlin’s cave
Gossamer gateway to Avalon: Tintagel Castle bridge brings magic to history
A slender carpet of slate hangs above a rocky ravine on the north coast of Cornwall, where azure waters lap at the entrance to Merlin’s Cave. It looks like the wizard has been up to his old tricks, conjuring a gossamer-thin bridge that effortlessly spans the chasm, reconnecting the mainland to the ancient ruins of Tintagel Castle for the first time in centuries.
The modern-day Merlins take the form of Laurent Ney, a Belgian architect and engineer, and William Matthews, lead designer under Renzo Piano of the Shard skyscraper in London. The pair teamed up to summon this £5m footbridge into being for English Heritage. “We had no magic spells to help us,” says Ney, whose firm has built around 100 bridges across the world, but none in such a challenging location. “It was the first time in my life that I had to design a bridge in a site that was totally inaccessible – and which was expected to disappear into the landscape.”
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