Bridging the gap with inspirational design

Kerry Boettcher
Monday 02 Mar 2015

Seventy-four rival designs for a new pedestrian and cycle bridge across the river Thames have been unveiled as part of an international design competition run by Wandsworth Council in London

Seventy-four of some of the biggest names in the architecture and engineering industries, as well as some of the most exciting up-and-coming talents have submitted a diverse assortment of designs for the competition to design the Nine Elms to Pimlico Bridge. At this stage of the EU regulated competition, the designs are being displayed on an anonymous basis. This ensures that new talent get just as much consideration as more established practices. 

Designs range from mind-boggling space-age spans that seem to fly across the river, to whimsical, wild and wonderful waterfalls, pink fairy lights, to more classic, yet inspirational ideas. Wandsworth Council have invited Londoners to comment on the designs, which will then be fed through to the competition’s panel of judges, which includes Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia, Lambeth councillor Joanne Simpson, architect Graham Stirk, engineer Henry Bardlsey and CABE chair Pam Alexander. Each design proposal must now be submitted for technical scrutiny. The shortlist of four designs will be announced in March 2015, when the teams will then proceed to the next competitive stage and develop more detailed plans.

The teams will have to contend with the opinions of Londoners who are fiercely proud of their river, and have strong ideas on what they want, as well as considerable engineering feats to overcome. Some residents have already opposed the idea, claiming that it will destroy what little green space there is left along that part of the river. 

The design must be in keeping with the cutting-edge architecture emerging on the south bank as well as the elegant frontages of the north bank. The entrance to the bridge on both sides must integrate smoothly with the surroundings and it must provide a safe experience for pedestrians and cyclists. 

Leader of Wandsworth Council and jury panel member, Cllr Ravi Govindia, said: “We challenged the world’s designers to come up with creative solutions to a very complex set of design, engineering and transport challenges. The response is testament to the exceptional talent out there. We have now begun to analyse each proposal in detail and I encourage Londoners to explore these ideas for themselves and to tell us what they think.”

“To succeed, this bridge must be two things at once. It must be a beautiful piece of architecture and a valuable new transport link. This is what our growing city needs and thanks to this competition we now have more than 70 different approaches to consider.”

The bridge will be positioned in an area between Lambeth Bridge and Chelsea Bridge, and will be one o the largest regeneration projects in Europe. The aim will be to transform what is currently one of the capital’s last remaining industrial districts into a world-class destination right in the heart of London.

The bridge would provide another route through central London to support the shift to towards zero emission, sustainable travel options. 

The first stage design ideas are being published online and were showcased to communities in Nine Elms and Pimlico at the Westminster Boating Base on the north bank, and at the ROSE Centre on the south bank last month.

The Nine Elms to Pimlico Bridge competition was published on WAN Tenders. Competition details can be viewed here.

Key Facts:

Urban design
United Kingdom

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