Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Remember the Millennium?

click to enlarge photo
Was it midnight, 31st December 1999, or was it the same time in 2000? I mean the time when we tipped from the last millennium to the present one. The mathematicians amongst us, and possibly the pedants too, opted for the latter. Most of us went for the former because, even if technically wrong, it just felt right.

That was one discussion around the millennium. The other was, "How are we going to mark it?" In most communities and many organisations there was a desire to leave a permanent reminder that we were alive at this rare moment in time. In Britain every city, town and village had a committee that grappled with this most contentious of issues. A new clock in the town market place? A new village sign - marked with 2000, or more cryptically, MM? Perhaps a millennium green - a public space for all to use in perpetuity? Better yet, a massive dome on some derelict land in London! All these and more were commissioned, some adding a modest benefit to the community, others conferring a more dubious legacy. A clutch of communities opted for millennium bridges. Lancaster was one such city.

The strikingly conceived footbridge shown in my photograph above spans the River Lune. It is an uncompromisingly modern and adventurous design by the firm of Whitbybird, in an area with many historic and significant buildings. And it's none the worse for that! The lightness and audacity of the design are a joy to behold. Two decks meet at the twin tall pylons and a single sinuous deck arcs over the river receiving support from cables and a single column on the way. My photograph only partly illustrates the bridge's exceptional qualities because I was as interested to capture the light and reflections as I was the structure. The early morning winter light was throwing deep shadows, and the state of the tide meant the river was fairly tranquil with an interesting wave texture. So I tried to do a bit of both. For the sake of engineering maybe I needed to include more of the bridge. To make a better photograph I perhaps needed less of it. My two interests collided in this photograph, and this is what I ended up with!
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen