Garden to bridge the Thames by Heatherwick and Arup

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A period of public consultation has begun for a new Garden Bridge proposed to cross London’s River Thames. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick with Dan Pearson Studio and engineers Arup, the concept has been developed in response to a call from Transport for London to enhance pedestrian links across the river.

When original proposals surfaced in June 2013, Heatherwick said: “With its rich heritage of allotments, gardens, heathland, parks and squares, London is one of the greenest cities in the world. In this context, we are excited to have been selected by Transport for London (TfL) to explore the opportunity of a pedestrian river crossing. The idea is simple; to connect north and south London with a garden.”

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This is not the first time that the designer has been inspired by the rich horticultural heritage of England’s capital as is most explicitly shown in his UK Pavilion for the Shanghai Expo in 2010.

The Garden Bridge is 360m in length and adopts a curving outline, widening and narrowing to create a series of five spaces for different habitats and miniature landscapes. The foliage incorporated into the design will be seasonal, including mature trees, shrubs, grasslands and perennial plants. Two potential building materials have been mentioned in the plans, both of which offer neutral hues to blend with the neighbouring architecture: a copper-nickel alloy and a reconstituted stone with a warm colouring and texture.

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As well as celebrating the impressive green heritage of London, the bridge is designed to enhance connections between the Southbank and Temple and onwards to Covent Garden and Soho. An analysis of pedestrian footfall in the area has shown that journeys beyond Southbank, with its wide array of cultural attractions, are limited, and it is hoped that this new elevated garden will encourage users to venture further and explore new areas of London within the local vicinity.

A period of public consultation is now underway, overseen by new charity The Garden Bridge Trust. The charity and TfL are welcoming all comments on the designs which will be open to critique from the public until 20 December 2013.

Sian Disson