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Demolition threat to Arup Associates' 'Ski-jump' canopy

The ‘ski-jump’ canopy of Arup Associatest Vauxhall bus station in south London could be demolished under proposals to build a new ‘linear walkway’ in the area

Just six years after the £4 million stainless steel shelter opened, local developer CLS has launched an international competition for designs to replace the landmark structure.

Five practices – including local studio Marks Barfield and Irish company Heneghan Peng – have been shortlisted for the contest, with each set to reveal their designs early next month.

Costing up to £20 million, the raised walkway is part of package of community benefits linked to the developer’s proposal to build two 40-storey plus skyscrapers nearby.

Masterplanned by Allies & Morrison (see the AJ 03.02.11), the skywalk-style scheme will link CLS’ towers with Vauxhall’s rail, underground and bus station infrastructure, creating a pedestrian-friendly zone above the area’s high volume road system.

The proposed walkway would have at least nine street-level access points and may also host a cycle route. CLS’s towers feature 400 flats and 18,600m² of office space with a 300 bed hotel and a six screen cinema.

Vauxhall bus station’s foundations would support the new structure however the distinctive ski-jump canopy would go, CLS chief executive Richard Trice confirmed.

He explained: ‘Cities evolve and this is a case of trying to do things better and better. The existing canopy is an interesting form but it doesn’t [deal with] the most important issue [to the area] which is pedestrians tackling a five-lane gyratory.’

Paul Brislin, director at Arup Associates, said the practice would be ‘disappointed’ to see the canopy destroyed.

He said: ‘[The bus station’s] distinctive form is a beacon for regeneration in a previously run-down area of London, and is held with affection by many.

‘It’s also one of the few visible symbols of sustainability in London – the cantilevered arms are not just a landmark, they are angled at the perfect position to generate energy from the photo-voltaic array on their upper surface.’

A spokesperson for bus station operator Transport for London added: ‘We are currently considering the proposals and will respond to the developers in due course.’

A statement from Allies & Morrison

‘At this stage, our proposals are at concept stage. We will be consulting with adjacent landowners and occupiers to ensure that the proposals fit together. In order to deliver the linear walk, the bus station structure will need to be redesigned and rebuilt. An initial meeting has been held with TfL and we look forward to working with them to improve the public realm.’

Readers' comments (3)

  • What a shameful waste of money

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  • 'Streets in the sky' eh? Havent we been here before?
    Those visualisations could be straight out of the 'Traffic in Towns' Buchanan report from 1963. Bad idea then - bad idea now. Quite apart from the idiocy of destroying this magnificent structure.

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  • Kevan Shaw

    Destroying this structure is the complete antitheses of sustainability! Not only is there a huge waste of material resources but the renewable energy element the Photo-Voltaics have hardly saved the energy used to manufacture them after this length of time. How can we be expected to believe anyone is taking sustainability seriously when this kind of proposal is considered!

    Kevan Shaw, Director of Sustainability for PLDA

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