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Heatherwick: ‘The Garden Bridge has to be built in central London or not at all’

  • 12 Comments

Thomas Heatherwick spoke about the Garden Bridge at a rare public lecture in London last night (29 June)

The Garden Bridge designer defended the controversial location for the Thames crossing at the NLA’s annual lecture held as part of the London Festival of Architecture.

‘We had looked at other locations for the bridge’, he said.

‘But the human scale of this bridge is about lingering and looking out at the city. At other locations, such as Battersea, you didn’t want to linger.’

He added: ‘It has to be in the centre of the city or not at all.’

Campaigners had previously claimed the bridge should be built elsewhere, criticising the 367m-long crossing for being in the ‘wrong place’.

Despite being the subject of a review by Transport for London of its procurement following a Freedom of Information investigation by the AJ, work is continuing at pace on the £175 million bridge.

Test piles are currently going in the Thames and Heatherwick revealed designs for the bridge’s planters, railings, lighting, and seating.  

Heatherwick continued: ‘London has treated the Thames as an obstacle to breach. Why does a bridge have to be barrier and not a place?’

‘We want to create a garden that stitches London together and not a bridge with a few plants on it.

‘The hero of the Garden Bridge needed to be the garden. The bridge designed itself along some key parameters. The project is really just two planters which sit in the river.’

Calling his lecture ‘work in progress’, Heatherwick’s talk also described his career so far from his work as a student through to current projects including the Learning Hub at Nanyang Technological University and the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art in Cape Town.

  • 12 Comments

Readers' comments (12)

  • I choose the second option, please. "Not at all".

    www.afollyforlondon.co.uk

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  • There's a degree of underlying arrogance in the belief that this project is without doubt a great asset and in no way a disruptive imposition - and the notion that 'London has treated the Thames as an obstacle to breach' is simplistic in the extreme
    With work proceeding beyond the design stage, I wonder who's paying for it - is the joint commitment of £60m of public money, by Boris & George (at the same time that George is demanding the nation's books be balanced and pulling the rug from under large areas of the welfare system) already being drawn down?

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  • Seem to be a lot of people donning the emperor's new clothes on this project.
    Perhaps it's the hot weather

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  • Unwise of Mr Heatherwick to talk about an 'obstacle to be breached', when the Garden Bridge design requires its visitors to clamber up and down to get to and from the deck at both of its cut-off ends (or to wait for the lift).

    The claim that this flashy, intrusive and grotesquely expensive project has really got anything to do with everyday connectivity in the capital won't stand up at all. Far better just to call it an 'icon' - then we'll all know where matters stand.

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  • Not at all. Thank you. This is a procurement process and a design calamity. A total failure on all counts.

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  • ‘London has treated the Thames as an obstacle to breach. Why does a bridge have to be barrier and not a place?’

    Is this quote out of context? if not, what a weird and utterly arrogant thing to say. London has many fantastic bridges that are places in their own right, featuring in famous scenes of movies, in literature, music, nursery rhymes, TV adverts, plays, in works of art and are often the scenes of memorable moments in peoples lives. The Thames is also home to a thriving river boat service, it is still a commercial shipping lane and a place of work to many. The Thames Path, which stretches all the way through London is arguably London's most used park, public space, cycle route and walking route and has amazing views of the city, granted by the very fact that the Thames is an open space. The Thames itself is a place, and a much loved living and exciting part of London.

    The quote demonstrates the sort of wishy washy fluffy language being used to soften and fade the edges of a massive, hugely expensive, piece of civil engineering that will block the best and most famous views of London from its historic centre - the words are truly ridiculous and dumbfounding.

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  • PS - please AJ will you show the actual views of the bridge from the riverbank also, not from the penthouse of a nearby tower or a helicopter... lets see what it looks like from the queue to get on it and from the southbank where 30 mature trees are being killed to make way for it and the view to the city and st paul's will be obliterated... for the sake of balanced reporting...

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  • Not at all will be fine, thank you. It is precisely because this bridge will be a barrier, and an intrusion on the most iconic views of London, that it should be rejected!

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  • "But the human scale of this bridge is about lingering and looking out at the city. At other locations, such as Battersea, you didn’t want to linger." How does Thomas Heatherwick actually know whether people might want to linger and look out at the city? Without proper consultation of Londoners - or even a decent bit of market research - such a statement is totally invalid. Just like the proposed Garden Bridge which is being dumped on us by a few individuals wanting to "make their mark". And at the same time destroying perfectly good views of the river and the city beyond that people do stop and look at.

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  • Mr Heatherwick's core argument is that the bridge is for "lingering and looking at the city". I do this every time I stroll across Waterloo bridge, the Millenium bridge, and the Hungerford bridges. Delightful experiences day or night - and there are no trees or clamour of sightseers to block the view. Mr Heatherwick's bridge is designed to produce the oposite effect to the one he claims he wants.

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