London – England’s capital city… one of the most vibrant metropolises of the world. Millions of visitors come every single year to the city, where history and the most up-to-date trends coexist next to each other; where business and art meet in a colourful mix. As if there weren’t more than enough reasons to visit UK’s capital already, there are more exciting highlights about to come …
One of these highlights is going to be a new bridge for pedestrians and cyclists. It will connect the north bank with the south bank of the river Thames, and it is going to be built between Nine Elms and Pimlico. The “Nine Elms and Pimlico” bridge, will then fill the gap between the Vauxhall and Chelsea bridges and provide a new transport link for commuters – and a new highlight for curious visitors, of course! :)
People can choose what the Nine Elms and Pimlico bridge should look like
But this bridge will not just be simply another connection between the two banks of the river! In December 2014 a competition was launched by Wandsworth Council and designers and engineers from all over the world were called to submit their proposals for the design of the new bridge. “We challenge the world’s designers to come up with creative solutions to a very complex set of design, engineering and transport challenges,” Leader of Wandsworth Council Ravi Govindia is quoted on the competition’s website. And “to succeed this bridge must be two things at once. It must be a beautiful piece of architecture and a valuable new transport link”.
For a proposal the designers and engineers had to meet some requirements: they needed to make sure that the bridge will be able to carry 9,000 pedestrians and 9,000 cyclists every day, plus the costs will not be higher than £40 million. 74 proposals were accepted and they were displayed anonymously, so the visitors wouldn’t know the designer behind them. After that, visitors could send in their comments and ideas on the proposals – it is essential that residents have the choice to influence the planning process.
A design competition makes sure the best proposal wins
After the evaluation, the four best groups enter the second stage of the competition (the announcement of these groups will be in the next couple of days!). They will be given eight weeks to give more information to describe their proposals, including explanatory reports on technical issues, logistics and costs. After their second submission, each team on the shortlist will be granted £12,000. The members of the teams are very important in this stage: They will be interviewed on how the work has been distributed among them, what the initial design ideas looked like and more. The interaction with the Technical Panel (on technical details) and the Residents’ Review Panel (on people’s thoughts about the development of the area) is crucial for the team’s overall performance. Besides that the Panels’ evaluations are very important for the Jury Panel’s final decision.
Although the public exhibitions are already closed and the evaluation is taking place right now, you can see a gallery of the 74 proposals on the competition’s website. You can see some really spectacular ideas there: One bridge has waterfalls, another one is designed with rainbow-coloured latticework. One bridge has red bicycle lanes on it that look like racing tracks. Another one has looping sides that are lit by pink spotlights. The most extraordinary ideas found their way into the competition and could be judged upon by the residents.
Nine Elms is not the only bridge to be built: the Garden Bridge has just been approved
This is the second bridge to be built soon. The “Garden Bridge”, designed by Thomas Heatherwick, is going to be built between South Bank and Covent Garden. Fully covered in trees and plants, the bridge is thought to provide an usual and extraordinary way to cross the Thames for pedestrians.
People can feel like walking through a park and while crossing the river at the same time. That sounds super exciting! And ‘exciting’ is the right word for it: The bridge has already caused a lot of controversy, with people being outraged by the high extra costs that the building of the bridge involves. Protests against the “most expensive footbridge in the world” can be read all over the internet. To avoid protests, groups of eight or more people will need to apply first before they can cross the bridge in the future. Its completion is scheduled for 2017.
London wants to make Nine Elms more attractive – for visitors and residents alike
The Nine Elms and Pimlico bridge is part of an infrastructure plan for the Nine Elms district in the South of London. For £1 billion, the 195 hectare area will be transformed and become much more pleasant to live, work and spend time. The vision is to build new parks, walkways and buildings to create a vibrant new district for the city.
16,000 new homes are going to be provided, together with 25,000 new jobs, and more open space for public use. Also, a new tube station for the disused Battersea Power Station will be built, and the whole site will be redeveloped. For the transformation of the area, the world’s best architects are called to create new and spectacular designs.
The new bridge is thought to encourage more walking and cycling in the area and make the environment more attractive. But it’s not all about style: it will also improve the connectivity to the more central zones north of the river and maybe relieve the pressure on the bus and tube routes and the surrounding bridges.
In my opinion this will definitely provide is a new, beautiful hot spot in the city of London! And not only will tourists be fascinated by this bridge, it will also improve the life quality of the people who already live in the area, and those who will come and live there in the future. Here you can see a document with the plans for the area. I’m also really looking forward to it and I’m very curious if all the plans will be realized as they intend to :)
If you want to see how the district is going to be transformed, the “last and greatest single prospect regeneration in central London” as the mayor of the city, Boris Johnson puts it, take a look at this video: