PDP London architects, working with Macfarlane + Associates Landscape Architects, Greengage and Studio 4215, submitted the winning proposal for a new ecological vision for South London’s Low Line

Part of the Low Line's ongoing development, the Old Union Yard Arches opened in 2017

Better Bankside, the Low Line Steering Group and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) have announced the winner of the international competition to develop an ecological vision for the Low Line in South East London.

The Low Line Commons, conceived by PDP London architects working with Macfarlane + Associates Landscape Architects, Greengage sustainability consultants and Studio 4215 environment consultants, aims to build a common vision for the Low Line and put the local community, as well as nature, at the heart of the project.

The winning design offers four interlinked themes to help guide the emerging Low Line – productive green infrastructure, convivial public space, diverse and green economy, and historical and cultural connections.

Following the path of Victorian railway viaducts through Bankside, London Bridge and Bermondsey, the Low Line stretches through some of London’s oldest neighbourhoods. It will open up a walkway along the base of the viaducts that will connect communities, create breathing spaces and support new businesses.

The Low Line Competition, which launched in July 2019, challenged teams to present a green vision to underpin the future development of the Low Line. It received 82 entries from architects, landscape architects, ecologists, engineers, artists and other professionals spanning 35 countries.

Nature is fundamental to the project. It will create accessible new green connections and incorporate a variety of ecological interventions, helping to improve air quality and create a healthier environment. It proposes a sustainable drainage system using ecological engineering methods, such as bioswale planting and street-level rain gardens, to avoid surface flooding and store water. The project features increased green infrastructure – tree planting, community gardens and wildlife habitats – to help create a sense of place for the community and encourage visitors to the Low Line.

The Low Line is a long-term project. It will incrementally unfold as different opportunities and funding strands become available. The winning project provides a coherent, creative framework for the future evolution of the project, ensuring it delivers the greatest benefit for people, place and nature.

The Low Line RIBA competition is supported by Lund Trust, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. The evaluation panel included:

  • Lisbet Rausing, Co-founder of Lund Trust;
  • Graham Morrison, Partner at Allies and Morrison as the RIBA Adviser;
  • Donald Hyslop, Chair of Better Bankside and the Low Line steering group, and Head of Regeneration and Community Partnerships at Tate Modern;
  • and Adam White, President of the Landscape Institute.

Entries were judged anonymously, so the identity of the winning team was not known until it had been chosen by the panel. Read more about the shortlisted entries.

Further funding for the Low Line has been secured through a £1m grant from the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund, which will match a further £1m of investment from Low Line project partners to deliver a number of projects across the area, including some early projects stemming from the design competition.

The Low Line has developed through a group of initial partners including Better Bankside, Team London Bridge, Blue Bermondsey, Southwark Council, the Arch Company, and Borough Market who are steering the initial scoping, planning and communication of the project.

Find out more at www.lowline.london.

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