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Foster joins London ‘skycycle’ project as authorship controversy flairs

Foster and Partners has joined the design team behind an ambitious project to create a raised cycle network along London’s railways. A practice has meanwhile claimed they proposed a similar idea three years ago

The world-famous designer’s studio has joined landscape outfit Exterior Architecture and engineers Buro Happold on the project and is providing urban design services.

The proposal, named Skycycle, is for a series of raised, pay-as-go commuter bike routes supported by the capital’s existing railway structure.

The scheme, which has support from Mayor of London Boris Johnson, aims to provide a safe environment to meet a projected future rise in cyclist numbers.

Architect Christian Ambrose however has claimed the proposals are ‘almost exact copies’ of a scheme he and a group of architects submitted to the mayor back in 2009.

In a letter to the AJ pointing to ‘extraordinary similarities’ between the schemes, he said: ‘We would like to refrain from making any assumptions as to how these recent designs were developed, but are determined to reclaim authorship of this idea, which we believe would greatly benefit London.’

Sam Martin of Exterior Architecture, who promoted the Skycycle scheme with colleague Oli Clark, disputed the claims.

He said: ‘It’s not using Network Rail land, it’s not even the same business model, it’s not even the same conversation.’ He added: ‘Elevated cycles routes are not a new thing, it’s been thought of the world over.’

Suggesting Ambrose’s team were welcome to collaborate on the scheme, he said: ‘It’s not too late to join the fray or re-enter the fray.’

The Skycycle design team, with Transport for London officials, met with railways owner Network Rail to discuss the project this week.

Martin said he expected to meet with Johnson and Network Rail chief executive David Higgins in the coming weeks to discuss taking the project further.


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