Allies and Morrison has drawn up an alternative proposal for a Garden Bridge in London: converting Blackfriars Bridge into a tree-lined walkway
The Southwark-based firm, which won AJ120 Practice of the Year last year, came up with the idea in response to ongoing debate about the Garden Bridge - the highly contentious ‘planted’ footbridge designed by Thomas Heatherwick and backed by Joanna Lumley.
The practice, which has its headquarters close to the proposed link between Temple and the South Bank, admitted that the ’intention behind the bridge [was] noble’ but that ’widespread concerns about cost, ownership and appropriateness [were] hard to ignore’.
The Garden Bridge will cost at least £175 million, with a chunk of that coming from the taxpayer in the form of funds committed by Transport for London and the Department of Transport.
But it is already almost a year behind schedule and the procurement process has been repeatedly questioned.
‘Rethought and slightly readjusted, Blackfriars can accommodate a public garden of similar size to the proposed Garden Bridge,’ according to a post on Allies and Morrison’s website.
The transformation of Blackfriars Bridge could be achieved by having one single 14m-wide pavement on the west side of the bridge, to allow the creation of a ‘brilliant pedestrianised garden’ with ‘dramatic views of St Paul’s and the City to the east and Westminster to the west.’
The architectural firm describes how the suggested Blackfriars Bridge Garden ‘does not require extensive construction and can be delivered at a fraction of the cost of a new bridge.’
It adds: ‘A garden over the Thames is a tantalising vision, but it’s one that does not require an entirely new bridge. We could simply use one that is already there.’
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