Aerial Walkways – Innovative Solutions In Industry And Leisure

Aerial Walkways – Innovative Solutions In Industry And Leisure

13th January 2014

A walkway is a platform that provides a solution where frequent access is needed across a fragile surface or across a void.  There are all types of walkways available, especially in industry and these can provide a great access solution whether freestanding or suspended.  However, we’re now seeing aerial walkways being used in an imaginative way to enhance the viewing experience at visitor attractions in the UK and across the whole world.  Industrial walkways are usually manufactured in aluminium, steel or a combination of metal and Glass Reinforce Plastic (GRP) and in the UK will be manufactured in accordance with BS EN 5395:1985 and will need to be specifically designed to comply with Health and Safety Requirements.  Aerial walkways at visitor attractions and leisure locations will be used by the public at large and will also need to comply with the requisite health and safety legislation, no matter where they are.

Recent news reports reveal that London is set to get its first aerial walkways as part of a £250 million revamp of Vauxhall Cross.   Two new forty storey skyscrapers will contain a new hotel, shops, restaurant and cinema on a three acre site next to the American Embassy.  High level walkways are planned to enable pedestrians to walk above Vauxhall’s road system, with work starting this year and completion planned for 2017.

A recent addition to the UK’s aerial walkways is that at Kew Gardens.  The Rhizotron and Xstrate Treetop Walkway was opened to the public in 2008 and allows visitors to walk amongst the crowns of sweet chestnut, lime and oak trees.  It is 18 metres high and 200 metres long with the structure itself based on a Fibonacci numerical sequence often present in nature’s growth patterns.

The Eden Project in Cornwall boasts a new Rainforest Aerial Walkway to take visitors on a journey amongst the treetops in the Rainforest Biome which has been billed the “biggest conservatory on Earth”.  Nature lovers can get a new perspective on the tropical trees from this platform, including Cola nitida (which provided the original flavouring for Coca Cola), the Sausage Tree (Kigelia Africana) with its sausage shaped fruits and the Tamarind (Tamarindus indica) which is used in the making of both Worcester and HP sauces.  Phase One of this Walkway opened to the public in July, 2013 but fundraising continues and there are plans for a second phase of this Walkway which will extend to the Weather Station, an art installation which will allow visitors to discover how rainforests control the planet’s climate.  Subsequent plans are in place for further extensions to include a Fruit Bar in the treetops and a Field Station where visitors can explore ways in which they can help to protect the world’s rainforests.

Whether they’re industrial or cultural, aerial walkways offer us safe access to hard to reach places.  Industrial walkways can be used for carrying out regular work or maintenance at high levels.  A walkway is a much more useful solution than an access ladder, providing a fixed platform with guard rails in areas that would otherwise be practically impossible to reach.  The industrial walkways of the past have inspired designers and fabricators who are now using these walkways to provide much better access in visitor attractions around the world.