“Up on the fourth floor of a heavy piece of architecture on the Quai de la Megisserie in Paris is a perfectly normal two-floor high courtyard, the ordinariness of its ‘backwall’ architecture accentuated by the dark grey paint with which it has been masked. Within it the young advertising executives and “creative” personnel rush about their business clutching portfolios and chattering in a variety of languages. Then some of them step out into space….
Diagonally across the courtyard it lies – or rather hovers – above a surface casually planned as a garden: a bridge made entirely of glass.
The fact that the bridge feels as if it might fracture – aesthetically – but that it is not likely to – technically – introduces its ambience very well. Somehow a comment is being made upon the ‘edgy’, the ‘real/unreal’ world of advertising, by a similarly edgy, real/unreal piece of architecture.” (Peter Cook, Blueprint May 1987)
A thin argon lighting strip reinforces the ‘tension’ of the design, and creates at dusk and evening a ‘virtual ceiling’ across the landscaped courtyard.
Two asymmetrical masts (responding to the height of the buildings at either end of the bridge) suspend a simple braced horizontal steel roof plane, which in turn suspends by cables a horizontal steel floor plane. This is laterally braced back to the base legs of the masts.
The roof, vertical ‘walls’ and floor are all glazed. The roof and walls uses toughened glass fixed through countersunk fittings in the glass; and the floor uses laminated glass, partly sandblasted to provide an anti-slip surface.
Designed by Ian Ritchie Architects with RFR in 1984, it is the world’s first all glass bridge, and the glass floor inspired a generation of designers to start using laminated glass for ramps, staircases and galleries.