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THE GUIDE TO LONDON’S NEW BRIDGES

With London’s numerous regeneration schemes underway, attention has turned to the Thames. With 13 new crossings proposed we take a look at those behind the designs.

With London’s numerous regeneration schemes underway the focus has turned to the Thames. Intersecting our capital, this great divider is the only barrier standing in the way of the formation of a unified London. However, this may be about to change. Included within Boris Johnson’s December report, ‘Connecting The Capital’, no less than 13 new crossings have been proposed stretching between Fulham in the West and Dartford in the East. 

Whilst much has been written about Heatherwick’s approved Garden Bridge; not much has been publicised about the architects charged with delivering the other 12. With many of these crossings vital to the success of the current regeneration schemes currently underway, the resulting structures are poised to become monuments in their own right.

We take a look at the key names behind the design of these landmark bridges:

1. SIR TERRY FARRELL: GALLIONS BREACH – SURREY QUAYS TO CANARY WHARF – CANARY WHARF TO GREENWICH – SILVERTOWN TO CHARLTON – WOOLWICH FERRY – BARKING TO THAMES MEAD 

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Britain’s most prominent Master Planner and celebrated architect, Sir Terry Farrell CBE, RIBA, FRSA, FCSD, MRTPI; will be responsible for designing six of the proposed 13 new bridges planned for the Thames. A natural choice for the role, Farrell has been instrumental in establishing this project having identified the integral part these crossings will play in continuing to stimulate the development potential in East London.

Farrell brings with him a wealth of experience that has seen him appointed as the Mayor’s Design Advisor. His early career began as a partnership with Sir Nicholas Grimshaw in 1965 with a focus on housing projects. However, it was only later in 1980 having established his practice, Terry Farrell & Partners, that he began to make a name for himself as the country’s most influential postmodernist architect. He completed numerous large-scale commissions including MI6 headquarters in Vauxhall, Charing Cross Station and the redevelopment of Comyn Ching Triangle in Covent Garden.

However, it was Farrell’s regeneration projects that stood out. Counted amongst the many examples across the country his most exceptional projects are Brindley Place in Birmingham, Edinburgh Exchange District, Greenwich Peninsula and Paddington Basin. For his extensive work in Newcastle which dealt with the city’s Quayside and The International Centre for Life, Farrell was awarded the Freedom of the City – Newcastle’s highest honour.

Expanding his practice to Hong Kong in 1991, Farrell’s work continued in the same vein designing landmarks such as the Peak Tower, Kowloon Station development, and the British Consulate-General – both in Hong Kong. His KK100 Tower in Shenzhen remains the tallest building ever constructed by a British architect. 

Today Farrell holds a key role in London’s regeneration, both as an advisor and an active participant. In May 2010, his practice was appointed to regenerate the 72-acre area around Earls Court Exhibition Centre and in 2012 was tasked with Masterplanner for Wood Wharf: the next phase of Canary Wharf ́s development.

2. THOMAS HEATHERWICK: THE GARDEN BRIDGE 

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Founded in 1994, Thomas Heatherwick’s studio has swiftly earned an enviable reputation for their innovative and original approach to design. Heading a team of 180 from his base in Kings Cross, the last five years have seen the English designer making increasingly significant contributions to the UK. Amongst his award winning architectural work are several high profile public commissions. Formed of 204 bronze petals his Olympic Cauldron created for the 2012 London Olympics was considered a triumph. Similarly, his complete overhaul of London’s Routemaster bus (a design unchanged for over 50 years) helped elevate Heatherwick to the global stage.

Heatherwick’s future was sealed from an early stage when he became the protege of legendary Terence Conran. The two met while Heatherwick was a student at London’s RCA and his work left a considerable impression on Conran, who later proclaimed him as “the Leonardo Da Vinci of our times.” Whilst at the time the comment may have seemed bold, Heatherwick proved to be on the right track when he became the youngest practitioner to be appointed a Royal Designer for Industry. 

In contrast to many architectural practices, Heatherwick describes his studio as ‘problem solvers.’ This unique approach has led to a hugely diverse portfolio of work that includes buildings, installations, furniture and boats. But in recent years, he has upscaled his ambition and moved into the realm of urban design. Following his UK Pavilion, which won the top prize at the Shanghai Expo in 2010, Heatherwick was invited to create a 300,000 square metres mixed use site adjacent to Shanghai’s Art District. Similarly, in Hong Kong, the studio oversaw the redevelopment of Pacific Place in Hong Kong. A huge undertaking for a London-based practice, the project extended to a 650,000 square metre complex consisting of a major four-floor shopping mall with four large tower buildings arranged on top of it, containing offices, serviced apartments and hotels. 

Back in the UK, his practice has been awarded a joint commission with Bark Ingels to design Google’s new headquarters, Mountain View in California. Together with his Coal Drops Yard project in Kings Cross (awarded planning in December 2015) and the London’s Garden Bridge, it would seem that Heatherwick may well live up to Conran’s prophecy.

3. REFORM ARCHITECTS: ROTHERHITHE BRIDGE 

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Lead by Nik Randall, ReForm Architects, is a multi-disciplined practice headquartered in London’s Southwark. Known for their contemporary and eclectic approach to their craft their diverse range of skills have resulted in an equally varied portfolio and clientele. 

Recent projects have included Tom Seller’s Michelin starred ‘Story’ restaurant in Tower Bridge. One of the more unusual briefs, the studio, were tasked with transforming a former public lavatory into a world renowned restaurant. Similarly, ReForm worked with the Pet Shop Boys repurposing a garage in Notting Hill into a two-story studio and management office complete with bespoke furniture.

Alongside commercial and residential work an increasing number of their commissions come under Master Planning. Currently working on two major regeneration sites these include:

  1. Ebbsfleet Valley: Appointed by Land Securities as Architectural Masterplanners for this 485-hectare former quarry site in Kent. 
  2. Gallons Quarter: developed in collaboration with Alison Brooks Architects the design extends to 700 homes and 3000 sqm commercial space and at the scale of the urban block. Three different block typologies were used as part of the coherent design – the linear block, the perimeter block, and the point block.

Although London based, ReForm has recently formed a partnership with Danish studio, IAA Architecten. Encouraged by the number of successful and award-winning collaborations over 15 years the two conjoined practices have begun their first project in London.

4. BYSTRUP ARCHITECTURE DESIGN ENGINEERING: NINE ELMS TO PIMLICO BRIDGE

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Established in 1994 by Erik Bystrup, the Danish studio has earned an enviable reputation for their elegant yet simple design solutions. Following a design philosophy that focusses on aesthetics, economy, and ecology, Bystrup’s approach divides their work as either urban or project.

Noted for being able to produce comprehensive design solutions their most prolific commissions include the Oslo Waterfront (2000). This all-inclusive project combined the restructuring of the city’s waterfront along with the creation of various landmark buildings which includes a new city opera house.

Prior to their latest appointment on the Nine Elms to Pimlico Bridge, Bystrup made the headlines in the UK for their award-winning solution in which they redesigned Britain’s pylons. Bystrup architect, Rasmus Jessing’s entry to the RIBA international competition managed to reduce the size of the original 1920s design from 50m and 32 tonnes to 30 meters and 20 tonnes. This feat was heralded by Energy Secretary Chris Huhne as “an innovative design which is simple, classical and practical”. 

Bystrup’s submission for the Nine Elms to Pimlico Bridge was received with similar approval. Their design which features spiral ramps at either end of the structure was awarded the commission following a unanimous endorsement from the jury panel.

5. ONE WORLD DESIGN ARCHITECTS: DIAMOND JUBILEE BRIDGE 

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Principally a residential focused architectural practice, Chris Medland’s team have recently begun expanding into larger mixed-use and infrastructural schemes.

Based in Battersea and Haslemere, One World Design’s approach includes a keen drive towards sustainable design. Their Ecofarm project in Stanstead included a revolutionary aquaponics system that allowed their client to farm without the need for pesticide or additives.

One World Design were appointed to design a mixed-use scheme in Winchester city centre. The scheme will be residential led, feature a hotel, restaurant and retail uses. Continuing with their eco-philosophy the design will target BREEAM excellent and Code for Sustainable Homes level 5.

One World Design’s residential projects also incorporate this approach. Included in their portfolio are two new build homes in Bromley and Surrey, both of which were awarded Level 5 in the Code for Sustainable Homes – the highest possible award.

The Banda Journal