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
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
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.