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Revealed: Nine Elms bridge finalists’ latest designs


Hopkins, AL_A, Marks Barfield, and Bystrup with Robin Snell & Partners have revealed their final designs for a contentious new £40 million bridge in Nine Elms, south west London

Four engineer-led teams were shortlisted for the new pedestrian and cycle bridge connecting Pimlico and Nine Elms across the Thames earlier this year.

The full shortlist

  • Amanda Levete’s practice AL_A with Ove Arup and Partners, Gross Max, Equals Consulting and Movement Strategies
  • Marks Barfield Architects with Buro Happold, J&L Gibbons Landscape Architects, and Gardiner and Theobald
  • Hopkins Architects with Ove Arup and Partners and Grant Associates
  • Bystrup Architecture Design and Engineering with Robin Snell & Partnerswith Sven Ole Hansen ApS, Aarsleff and ÅF Lighting

The teams’ initial concept designs – revealed in February during the contest’s first anonymous stage – have now been further revised ahead of a winner being selected in the autumn.

An online poll of AJ readers found 33 per cent favoured Marks Barfield’s design while AL_A’s was the least popular with only 15 per cent of the vote.

London residents are being invited to comment on the four alternatives which will be displayed at two exhibitions on either side of the river before a final selection is made later this year.

Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, said: ‘We now have some very exciting and quite spectacular designs on the table. There is still a long way to go but these teams have given us real hope that a solution can be found to the complex challenges involved in creating a new pedestrian and cycle link across this stretch of the river.’

The new pedestrian and cycle bridge, which competition organisers Colander 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).


21st & 22nd July, 9:30am - 7:30pm:
The Gallery on the Corner, 155 Battersea Park Road, SW8 4BU

23rd & 24th July, 9:30am - 6:00pm:
Hyde Park Room, Regus Building, 8th Floor, 50 Broadway, SW1H 0RG

However doubt was cast over the high-profile bridge contest just hours after the initial entries were revealed when Westminster councillors on the north bank announced they were against plans for the crossing (AJ 25.02.15)

At the time local councillors raised fears the new structure would have an unwelcome ‘visual and environmental impact’ and could lead to issues with ‘traffic flows and pedestrian movement’ in and around Pimlico. 

Now, in an open letter published today (21 July) the Labour councillors for Churchill ward in Westminster – Murad Gassanly, Shamim Talukder and Jason Williams – called on Wandsworth to abandon the ‘unwanted vanity project’.

Talukder said ‘We believe the £43million could be better spent on public services rather than wasted on this project.’

Local residents have meanwhile launched a petition calling on Boris Johnson to block the new structure, claiming it would lead to the ‘catastrophic loss of Pimlico Gardens and Shrubbery, the only riverside garden square in London.’

Around £26 million 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.

A spokesman for Wandsworth Council said that the design schemes were grappling with challenges including how to raise the bridge high enough for large boats to pass underneath while minimising the slope faced by cyclists and pedestrians.

The finalists, whose designs will have to overcome these concerns, were selected by the competition jury which included Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia, Lambeth councillor Joanne Simpson, architect Graham Stirk, engineer Henry Bardsley and Cabe chair Pam Alexander.

The four teams saw off competition from 74 anonymous entries which included a mix of ‘world renowned architects’ and ‘up-and-coming practices’.

The scheme would need to go through the planning system on both sides of the river before it could be built


Readers' comments (4)

  • The proposal for this bridge is very exciting and it will become another useful landmark crossing of the Thames.

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  • What an opportunity to build Heatherwick's garden bridge that no one told us about, or do they need two ?

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  • My practice was based in St Georges Square close to the North bank where the proposed bridge will land. I have also lived in the area for many years so know it and Nine elms very well. I think the objectors are wrong. The bridge will open up additional pedestrian and cycle movement across the river which is otherwise a barrier. Greater accessibility will benefit residents and workers on both sides of the river and this proposal should be supported. The indications are that the bridge will be a stunning design which is a further plus. The loss of a part of the riverside garden is a negative factor but not in my opinion of sufficient importance to warrant refusing permission for a scheme that will be of benefit to a wider user than just Pimlico and Nine Elms and an attractive addition to the townscape in that area. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA

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  • How on earth can any Westminster councillors object to this - Westminster having recently rubber stamped the Garden Bridge (just downstream from Waterloo Bridge), far more disruptive to Thames vistas but far less useful than this public pedestrian & cycle link at Nine Elms.
    It's a shame (and surely bad planning) that the bridge alignment will result in the northern landing biting into the Pimlico Gardens & Shrubbery - is the Nine Elms redevelopment masterplan that inflexible?
    It's surely no coincidence that in the AJ's online poll the most intrusive bridge design is the least popular. Compared with that the mass of the postmodern Garden Bridge design is far more intrusive..

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