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London Festival of Architecture launches contest for Nine Elms underpass

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The London Festival of Architecture has launched a design contest for a £200,000 overhaul of public spaces beneath Thessaly Road Railway Bridge in Nine Elms, south-west London

Open to architects, designers, artists and students, the competition seeks proposals to transform the ‘ugly and unwelcoming’ underpass into an attractive and user-friendly route for pedestrians and cyclists.

The project – backed by Wandsworth Council – aims to create a new high-quality gateway to the Nine Elms Vauxhall regeneration zone which will see its centrepiece, Kieran Timberlake £750 million US Embassy, officially open next month. The winner will take home £20,000 and see their scheme installed in time for next year’s LFA.

London Festival of Architecture director Tamsie Thomson said: ‘London’s built environment is full of overlooked and unprepossessing spaces like Thessaly Road railway bridge, and this competition is a brilliant opportunity to show how thoughtful and imaginative design can transform the mundane into something quite special.

‘At the London Festival of Architecture, we are grateful to Wandsworth Council for providing this opportunity to showcase architectural and design excellence in London, and demonstrate the power of design in transforming London’s public realm.’

Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia said: ‘We are delighted to be working with the London Festival of Architecture in finding an innovative solution to improving the bridge space in Thessaly Road and I am really looking forward to seeing the winning design. We have a long-standing association with the LFA and it’s good to be in partnership with them again on this project.

‘The Thessaly Road underpass is much used by people in the local area but I think it’s fair to say that it’s definitely in need of a facelift. This competition is a great opportunity to do just that and, knowing the creative talent that is out there, I am sure we will find a design that will revitalise this key route through Nine Elms.’

Thessaly Road connects the major thoroughfares of Nine Elms Lane and Wandsworth Road. The 1km-long road is closed to through-traffic but is a popular route for pedestrians and cyclists. The project aims to identify fresh ideas for the underpass while also generating a flagship solution that could be harnessed for other similar sites across the capital.

Proposals may harness lighting, painting, graphic design or tiling and should aim to deliver a low-maintenance solution to improve aesthetics, access and safety under the bridge. Submissions must consider sustainability and be resistant to all weather conditions.

Judges include Thomson; Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership head of culture Anne Mullins; Pam Alexander, chair of the Covent Garden Market Authority; Studio Myerscough founder Morag Myerscough; and Clare Richards, founder of Footwork.

Applications should include a team biography, 200-word practice description, and 300 words explaining your interest in the project and initial reactions to the brief.

Six shortlisted teams – due to be announced in March – will receive £500 each to develop concept designs. The overall winner will receive £20,000 to further develop their designs which will be installed in time for next year’s LFA.

The deadline for applications is 23 February.

How to apply

Visit the competition website for more information

Contact details

Email: admin@londonfestivalofarchitecture.org

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