Bridge specialist Knight Architects has won a key design role on the Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf crossing in south-east London
The Buckinghamshire practice has been appointed by consultancy giant Atkins to help provide engineering and architectural support to Transport for London on the proposed scheme, the AJ has learned.
Knight Architects – which has worked on high-profile bridges including the Mersey Gateway and Manchester’s Ordsall Chord – will help Atkins undertake work to help TfL determine the location, height and other parameters of the Rotherhithe crossing.
Knight was previously appointed by another consultancy, Arcadis, on a technical scoping study for the Rotherhithe crossing – a report that has been at the heart of ongoing controversy over the subsequent procurement of design services for the project.
As part of its feasibility work, Arcadis effectively recommended a number of structural options for the Thames Crossing. After assessing various types of bridge, including a bascule, Arcadis’s feasibility study concluded that either a lift or swing bridge were ‘most appropriate at this stage’.
Before Arcadis’s June 2017 appointment, Southwark-based ReForm Architects had been working on a bascule-style bridge as part of its own self-funded feasibility studies for the site.
ReForm registered its designs (pictured below) for a proposed crossing at the location in 2015, and is considering legal advice over the way TfL ran the design services contest that saw Atkins appointed.
ReForm Rotherhithe Bridge
A TfL document produced for the design role bid process pointed out that ‘feasibility work suggests it will either be a swing or lifting bridge …’ and added that the ambition was ‘to improve upon and refine the … design from the feasibility study’.
ReForm managing director Nik Randall said earlier this year: ‘It is unbelievable that they can have this in bidding documents and then claim they are open to the best ideas.’
Randall told the AJ this week that he wanted the chance for a version of the ReForm scheme for Rotherhithe to be independently assessed against plans eventually worked up by TfL following guidance from Knight and Atkins.
A TfL spokesperson said: ‘Following a competitive procurement process from our multidisciplinary services framework, we appointed Atkins to provide engineering and design support, which will inform the next stages of procurement, as well as the Transport and Works Act Order application for a new proposed crossing between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf. As part of this work, Atkins has appointed Knight Architects as a subcontractor.
’While a navigable bridge is TfL’s provisional preference, no final decisions have been made on the crossing type or any specific aspects of design or location.’
Atkins and Knight Architects have been contacted for comment.
TfL has previously insisted that feasibility work did not advantage anyone in bidding for the next stage of design work because the appointment would be based on the capabilities of the team, rather than an evaluation of a design.
A spokesperson for the client body said last month: ‘Within Arcadis’s Bridge Options report, it clearly states that future design stages need not be restricted exclusively to its conclusions … accordingly, the ReForm option of a bascule bridge has neither been included nor precluded as part of this process.’
Meanwhile TfL has this week published the results of a public consultation on options for the crossing.
Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf potential landing sites from 2017 consultation
A proposed northern alignment for a navigable bridge, linking Nelson Dock and Westferry Circus, won more support than other alignments, and was backed by four in five respondents to that question.
In total, 93 per cent of more than 6,000 respondents backed the overall idea of a crossing between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf.
TfL managing director for surface transport Gareth Powell said: ‘There is great potential for more walking and cycling journeys across London, particularly in east London. The response to this consultation has been overwhelming and has helped provide a clear message on the key design elements for the crossing.
‘We are now working with Atkins, our design and engineering consultants, and local stakeholders to develop an accessible and achievable crossing that links to new and proposed walking and cycling routes on both sides of the river.’