Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We use cookies to personalise your experience; learn more in our Privacy and Cookie Policy. You can opt out of some cookies by adjusting your browser settings; see the cookie policy for details. By using this site, you agree to our use of cookies.

Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands reveals Thames Barrier bridge plans


Concept plans by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands for a cycling and pedestrian bridge next to the Thames Barrier have been revealed today (3 June)

Designed with marine engineer Beckett Rankine, the self-funded proposal was submitted to Transport for London (TfL) in late 2017 and both practices are currently engaged in ‘exploratory conversations’ with a number of relevant stakeholders.

The 530m-long scheme in east London was officially made public this morning at the press opening of the Royal Academy’s summer exhibition.

Thames barrier bridge

Thames barrier bridge

The proposed ‘low-cost, low-impact’ link would run parallel to the Thames Barrier, connecting new developments in Charlton on the south bank with Patel Taylor’s Thames Barrier Park. It would feature four lifting sections with each 61m span capable of being individually opened or closed to allow river traffic to pass.  

According to the firms, the multiple double-leaf bascule bridge would sit either ‘immediately upstream or downstream of the Thames Barrier, so impact on the flow of the river would be minimised’.

The structure would feature yellow steel box girders supporting aluminium mesh decks with a clearance of 15m above high water spring tides – a sufficient height for ‘most boats to be able to pass underneath’. However it is expected the spans will lift about 10 times a day for larger vessels.

Alex Lifschutz, founding director of Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, said: ‘There is really only one location in east London for a relatively low bridge suitable for cycles and pedestrians.

‘Construction would take about 18 months and phasing would mean that at least two of the barrier openings are always open for navigation, so no river traffic would be stopped. And because the majority of the construction can be done from the river, it will minimise disturbance to residents.’

It is understood the bridge has been designed as a potential replacement to the Woolwich Ferry, which is expected to close once planned road bridges across the River Thames at Gallions Reach and Rotherhithe are approved.

Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands is already working on another high-profile Thames project, having won the Illuminated River design competition in 2016 for a £20 million light installation covering up to 15 central London bridges.

Installation of the scheme, a collaboration with US light artist Leo Villareal, began on the first four bridges; London, Cannon Street, Southwark and Millennium Bridges, earlier this year. The first will be illuminated in summer 2019 with the team working their way upstream – the next group of bridges will be completed in 2020 and the project is due to complete in 2022.

Tbb location map

Tbb location map


Sadie Morgan, dRMM architects, National Infrastructure Commissioner

It’s hard to comment on the scheme from [the information that was available to me, but in principle I’m all for architects taking a more proactive role in coming up with solutions to how to better improve our built environment.

We need creative thinkers to join the debate, lead by example and help tackle some of the big issues we face, climate change being an obvious example. Architects and designers are well placed to contribute at the outset and shape how our national infrastructure projects are conceived as well as delivered. 


Readers' comments (7)

  • Sadie should be welcoming with open arms. What’s not to like why didn’t I think of it?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • How long will it be before procurement zealots demand that someone else's idea is put out to public competition? When are we going to stop punishing people with ideas and vision?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • This is an idea that was developed by a different office before this. The similarities, and lack of mention of where the notion originally came from, is concerning

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Given the barrier's life is limited it seems odd to commit to a bridge who piers match the fomer's so exactly.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • A bridge at this location should surely be developed in co-ordination with whatever needs to be done to extend the life of the Thames Barrier, as pointed out by Chris Rodgers.
    And why the need for (and expense of) no less than four lifting sections, when surely a good deal of the river traffic could pass beneath the bridge?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • MacKenzie Architects

    I flew into Southend Airport yesterday for the first time.
    Very nice experience too, and a seat on a mostly-empty train in and out of London. Much more civilised way of travelling than any of the 4 main airports around the capital who are desperate for more runways and more passengers.

    Anyway, the point is-
    If the Thames Barrier is going to be swamped with rising sea levels (which won't happen) the entire Essex coast from Harwich southwards is going to be inundated and no matter what monstrous barrier plan is created, central London around the Thames will be lost.

    Maybe they should have a two-way tilt on this design, and bend it downwards when there is a flood warning .......

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and Beckett Rankine originally came up with a design for the Thames Barrier Bridge as a response to Transport for London’s Transport Design framework in 2017. Prior to unveiling the Thames Barrier Bridge concept earlier this month (3 June), our team had been in touch with many of the relevant stakeholders including TfL, PLA and the Royal Borough of Greenwich and Newham. We are unaware of any other published design concepts for a bridge at the Thames Barrier and none of these stakeholders has mentioned knowledge of any similar proposals. We are now looking for investors to take the project forward to the next stage and would be interested to hear from colleagues or agencies who have any other insights or studies on the feasibility of a bridge at this location.

    The Thames Barrier Bridge is located next to the Thames Barrier, which is expected to remain operational until 2060-2070 or beyond, depending on the rate of sea level rise and life extension works. Eventually, the barrier is likely to be decommissioned once a second barrier is constructed downstream, at which point the machinery may be removed. But the structure is likely to remain as have other redundant elements in the river, such as the London Chatham and Dover Railway piers next to Blackfriars Bridge.

    The Thames Barrier has four navigable spans, two for inbound traffic and two for outbound. The need for two navigable spans in each direction is to enable one of the spans to be closed to navigation when its gate is undergoing maintenance. As there are four navigable spans on the barrier the Thames Barrier Bridge is shown with four opening spans to match. In practice it is likely that only one would open at a time, or possibly two if an inbound and outbound ship were transiting together. It is possible that the number of opening bridge spans might be able to be reduced to three but that would reduce the redundancy in the system.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs

Discover architecture career opportunities. Search and apply online for your dream job.
Find out more