Architecture case: the garden bridge


An ambitious new plan to create a woodland park bridge in the middle of London's Thames river is fast approaching reality.

The project has been developed by the Heatherwick Studio - the design studio behind the remarkable cauldron used in the London 2012 Olympic ceremonies - and the actor and campaigner, Joanna Lumley. Their vision - reputedly inspired by Lumley's memories of mist-covered mountain gardens in her childhood home of Malaysia - is for a new pedestrian ‘Garden Bridge’ across the River Thames; a scheme to connect North and South London with a unique new space.

George Osborne, the UK Chancellor, has predicted the bridge will draw “visitors from across the globe” and has provided an initial £30m of funding.

London Mayor Boris Johnson is also putting in £30m from Transport for London, and £30 million has been pledged by private donors. The unique green space over the Thames is expected to cost £150 million.

Mr Osborne said: “London’s proposed Garden Bridge will bring a new kind of public space into the centre of our capital city, attracting visitors from across the globe and showcasing the best in British design, creativity and engineering. As well as encouraging other economic development, both north and south of the river, this money will help encourage private donations to fund the rest of the bridge itself.”

In one of the greenest cities of its size in the world, this precious new piece of landscape will add to London’s rich and diverse horticultural heritage of heathlands, parks, squares, allotments and community gardens and support many indigenous river edge plant species.

 London's South Bank is a vibrant and artistic district attracting large number of visitors to its art galleries, theatres, music halls, restaurants and outdoor entertainment. However, visits to Temple and the north bank area east of Somerset House and Waterloo Bridge are far less frequent.

The bridge will grow and nourish the connection between these distinct areas whilst providing new walking routes to and from Covent Garden and Soho.

With a proposed structure that widens and narrows across its span, the elevated garden will also make places along its length for pedestrians to stop and enjoy the remarkable river setting and unparalleled views of the city. The addition of careful planting with variety in scale, openness and intimacy will create a new kind of public space in the city.

Heatherwick Studio is currently working closely with Transport for London and world-renowned engineering consultant Arup to develop the scheme.

On November 1st 2013 The Garden Bridge Trust, dedicated to driving forward the creation of the Bridge, was launched with Lord Mervyn Davies as its chairman. A public consultation led by The Garden Bridge Trust and supported by TfL, will run until December 20th 2013, and will encourage the public to come forward with their thoughts and suggestions on the scheme.

The Garden Bridge would be planted with a variety of trees, shrubs and flowers, carefully chosen to thrive in this environment. The planting project will be designed to reflect a number of different characteristics of the natural world, so that a pedestrian crossing the bridge would walk through an ever-changing garden over the Thames. There will be opportunities for people to sit and enjoy the space as a garden or walk through as part of a wider journey.