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Design contest launched for another Thames bridge

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Wandsworth Council has launched an international design competition for a new bridge across the Thames at Nine Elms in central London

The new structure, which competition organisers have said should be ‘inspiring and innovative’, will link Pimlico embankment on the north side of the river with Nine Elms to the south.

The bridge forms part of £1billion of infrastructure improvements in the huge regeneration area, which includes an extension to the Northern Line with two new underground stations designed by Grimshaw (AJ 12.11.14). According to Transport for London (TfL), the extension will kick-start regeneration in the Nine Elms area, where Kieran Timberlake is currently overseeing the construction of the new US Embassy, and ‘provide major transport benefits’.

The two-stage contest, which was originally announced back in July (AJ 08.07.14), will be judged by Graham Stirk of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners’, engineer Henry Bardsley, CABE chair Pam Alexander, head of design at TfL Robin Buckle, and Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia.

Today’s announcement (8 December), comes less than a week after Thomas Heatherwick’s controversial Garden Bridge across the river Thames was approved by Westminster Council (see AJ 02.12.14). The 366m-long planted structure between Queen’s Walk on the South Bank and London Underground’s Temple Station on the north has been criticised for, among other things, being ‘in the wrong place’ (see AJ 29.10.14). 

A TfL-backed feasibility study completed in 2013 found a ‘strong transport case’ for a new link at Nine Elms and it would provide pedestrians and cyclists with an attractive car-free alternative to Chelsea or Vauxhall Bridges. The report suggested the bridge could cost £40 million and carry 9,000 walkers and 9,000 cyclists each day.

Around £26million is already committed to the project through the development of Nine Elms and the winning design would be used to attract additional funding or sponsorship.

Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, said: ‘This is a competition to find a team of brilliant engineers and architects to design a beautiful bridge spanning the Thames.

‘This bridge has the potential to become an inspiring landmark, heralding the changes that are taking place south of the river and making vital connections to the north shore. The transport case is very strong indeed and this will be a valuable and sustainable addition to London’s transport infrastructure.

The design must win the hearts and minds of Londoners

‘This bridge needs to be designed to the highest quality standards: it must be inspiring, elegant and functional. The conundrum of creating a bridge that can be readily used by cyclists and pedestrians alike, that also provides adequate headroom for river traffic, is at the heart of the challenge.

‘The design must also win the hearts and minds of Londoners, particularly the people living in the local area. Developing an inspiring, beautiful design will help us to leverage further funding and take the project to the next stage.’

At stage one, competitors must submit information about the make-up of their teams and explain their approach to five design challenges.  A maximum of four teams will be selected for the next stage.

These four teams will then be asked to draw develop their design ideas and meet with the jury, the technical advisors and members of the residents review panel, before a final winner is selected.

More information about the competition and how to enter can be found, here.


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Readers' comments (1)

  • The race is on!

    It’s set to be an exciting few years for those bridge enthusiasts amongst us in London. There are two bridges with planning consent: our Diamond Jubilee Bridge and The Garden Bridge, and at least two others in the early stages of design including The Nine Elms Bridge and the Lower Thames Crossing (potentially at Woolwich, Gallions Reach or Belvedere). Each have their merits, none are mutually exclusive, serving different purposes for different audiences – but which one will be built first? The Garden Bridge is expected to be completed in 2018; the Nine Elms Bridge could be hot on its heels (subject to a smooth planning process); the Lower Thames Crossing as a road bridge will be a bigger challenge altogether and we expect will take longer to complete. The Diamond Jubilee Bridge is still in the running to be the first and could be open by the summer of 2016, more likely 2017. Progress is being made with funding, and with a fair wind and continued political and public support it really could be the first Thames crossing since the millennium.

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