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Bystrup and Snell set for Nine Elms bridge win

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A team led by Bystrup with Robin Snell Architects looks set to win the competition to design a new £40 million bridge in Nine Elms, south-west London

The Danish architecture and engineering practice has been recommended for the job ahead of teams including Amanda Levete’s practice AL_A, Marks Barfield Architects, and Hopkins Architects.

According to Wandsworth Council, the decision follows a ‘unanimous endorsement from the contest’s jury panel’.

The full shortlist

  • Amanda Levete’s practice AL_A with Ove Arup and Partners, Gross Max, Equals Consulting and Movement Strategies
  • Marks Barfield Architects with Buro Happold, J&L Gibbons Landscape Architects, and Gardiner and Theobald
  • Hopkins Architects with Ove Arup & Partners and Grant Associates
  • Bystrup Architecture Design and Engineering with Robin Snell & Partners, Sven Ole Hansen ApS, AECOM, Aarsleff and ÅF Lighting

If the London borough follows the recommendations of the judging panel, Bystrup will be named as winner of the contest and given the go-ahead to draw up detailed plans for the Thames river crossing.

Bystrup, which famously scooped the competition to design the UK’s new generation of electricity pylons in 2011, is also working with AECOM and planning expert DP9.

The new pedestrian and cycle bridge, which competition organiser Colander wanted to be both ‘inspiring and innovative’, will link Pimlico embankment on the north side of the river with Nine Elms to the south.

However the scheme has already come in for criticism from councillors in Westminster – the landing site for the bridge on the north bank of the Thames – who claim it will have a ‘damaging impact on Pimlico’s last remaining piece of public open space’ (see AJ 25.02.15).

The design competition began earlier this year with the aim of identifying world-class architects and engineers to take on the project.

It attracted 74 entries from across the globe including some of the best known names in the design industry.

An AJ online poll on the four shortlisted schemes found that 33 per cent of repondents favoured Marks Barfield’s design, while AL_A’s was the least popular with only 15 per cent of the vote.

Graham Stirk, senior partner at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and chair of the competition jury, said: ‘This was an extremely difficult choice between four excellent teams, but ultimately we felt that Bystrup and their partners had the most compelling approach to the challenges posed in our brief. Their strategy is elegant and simple, they aspire to celebrate the river and create a thing of real beauty, which is what this bridge should be.

He added: ‘Their light-touch approach to landing points is commendable, and the exploration of lighting and textured surfaces to manage movement across the bridge is both interesting and inventive. They see the bridge as a sustainable transport link and piece of new public realm which should be attractive, fun and a pleasure to use.’

Speaking on behalf of the team, Erik Bystrup, said: ‘From the outset we wanted to design an elegant bridge that provided simple and uninhibited access for all, with minimal impact landings on each bank.

‘We are very excited that this will be the first shared pedestrian and cycle bridge over the Thames, adding to the rich history of London’s river crossings.’

The panel’s recommendation will be discussed later this week by Wandsworth Council’s finance and corporate resources committee with a final decision set to be made by the council’s executive group on 30 November.

The bridge forms part of £1 billion of infrastructure improvements in the huge regeneration area. The programme includes an extension to the Northern Line with two new underground stations designed by Grimshaw (AJ 28.08.14).

A transport study carried out by Transport for London (TfL) had confirmed that the bridge has a strong business case and would provide a valuable route through central London.

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