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Revealed: Ideas contest floats Tidal Thames future visions

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A raft of concepts to upgrade the tidal Thames by five architect-led teams including this year’s Manser Medal-winner, Carl Turner Architects, have been unveiled

The Manser Medal-winner was chosen alongside David Kohn Architects, Studio Octopi, 51% Studios with Neil Cummings and The Eastern Reach for the high-profile project following an open call.

The schemes have gone on show inside the Royal Academy of Arts as part of an open competition backed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and the Architecture Foundation, entitled London as it could be now.

The five teams

  • Carl Turner Architects with The Edible Bus Stop
  • David Kohn Architects
  • 51% Studios and Neil Cummings
  • Studio Octopi with Civic Engineers and Jonathan Cook Landscape
  • The Eastern Reach

The participating teams were encouraged to explore ideas that ‘increased interaction with the waterway and raised awareness of this important artery running through the capital’.

Proposals included ‘river rooms’ which span the length of the Thames, open-source maps capturing real-time data on the waterways, and ideas for reintroducing swimming back into the river.

The propsals

David Kohn Architects: River Rooms

David Kohn Architects' proposal entitled River Rooms

David Kohn Architects’ proposal entitled River Rooms

David Kohn Architects has proposed public spaces along the Thames dubbed ‘River Rooms’.

The proposals suggest connecting existing piers along the Thames to open up public spaces. These would be linked through a number of newly created piers and stop-off points along the river.

Studio Octopi: Thames Baths Project

Studio Octopi's proposals for reintroducing swimming to the Thames

Studio Octopi’s proposals for reintroducing swimming to the Thames

Studio Octopi’s proposals take inspiration from the outdoor floating public swimming baths created at the same time as Bazalgette’s London sewage system was opened in 1865. At this time swimming in the Thames was commonplace . These proposals aim tobring it back once again, by creating swimming pools at two of the Super Sewer construction sites: Blackfriars Bridge Foreshore and King Edward Memorial Park Foreshore.

The pools will be enclosed by native planting designed by Jonathan Cook Landscape Architects, creating natural habitats along the length of the river and increasing biodiversity.

Carl Turner Architects and The Edible Bus Stop: River Beds

Carl Turner Architects with The Edible Bus Stop's guerrilla gardening inspired proposals

Carl Turner Architects with The Edible Bus Stop’s guerrilla gardening inspired proposals

Carl Turner Architects’ proposals for the banks of the Thames between Battersea Park and Vauxhall Bridge suggest using guerrilla gardening to create a new green route.

In an attempt to create ‘active public space’, local communities  will be encouraged to participate in growing fruit and vegetables on the site.

51% Studios and Neil Cummings: Floodplain

51% Studios and Neil Cummings' Floodplain proposals

51% Studios and Neil Cummings’ Floodplain proposals

In collaboration with artist Neil Cummings, 51% Studios proposed an online platform enabling users to interact with the River Thames by a different means. Using open-access public data from organisations including the Crown Estate, DEFRA, Google, Twitter, Instagram, and English Heritage, the Thames is ‘re-imagined for the 21st-century’.

The Eastern Reach: Lubricity

The Eastern Reach's proposal entitled Lubricity

The Eastern Reach’s proposal entitled Lubricity

The Eastern Reach, a collective of  designers, engineers, and ecologists, focused their proposals on East London, and an area of the Thames between Rainham and Grays.

The proposals look at the social and ecological processes taking place near to the river, combining site-specific fieldwork and spatial mapping.

Sarah Gaventa, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners said: ‘The diversity of scale and approaches of the five teams will provoke a public debate on the many ways we might utilise and enjoy the Thames in the future, and hopefully encourage decision makers to turn our river back in London’s greatest asset.’

Owen Hopkins, acting manager, architecture programme at the Royal Academy of Arts added: ‘Each of the selected proposals shows a thoughtful and original response to the brief.’

The exhibition builds on a previous exhibition entitled Lost Opportunities for London: London As It Could Be, held at the Architecture Foundation back in 1991.

The final proposals will now be on display as part of the Richard Rogers RA: Inside Out exhibition until 13 October 2013.



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