Designers challenged to produce inspiring design for new river crossing

Design competition launched for new bridge across the Thames

Wandsworth Council has launched an international competition to design a new bridge across the River Thames in central London.

Architects and engineers are being challenged to produce ‘an inspiring, innovative design’ for the new river crossing linking the Nine Elms district with the historic Pimlico embankment to the north.

A ‘high-profile’ jury panel is being assembled to select the winning design. Confirmed panel members include Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia, architect Graham Stirk, engineer Henry Bardsley, CABE chair Pam Alexander and Robin Buckle, head of urban design at Transport for London.

The competition will include public exhibitions and engagement with local communities on both sides of the river.

The Nine Elms to Pimlico bridge is part of a £1bn infrastructure package which is transforming the Nine Elms regeneration area into ‘a well connected Zone One destination’. As well as the bridge there are two new Northern Line tube stops, improvements to rail stations, two river bus piers and a new network of footpaths, parks and cycle lanes.

A Transport for London feasibility study completed in 2013 found that there is a strong transport case for a new bridge at Nine Elms and it would provide pedestrians and cyclists with an attractive car-free alternative to Chelsea or Vauxhall Bridges.

Around £26 million is already committed to the project through the development of Nine Elms, and the winning design could be used to attract additional funding or sponsorship.

Transport for London studies show the bridge has a strong transport case and would provide walkers and cyclists with an attractive car-free alternative to Chelsea or Vauxhall bridges.

Once the winning design is selected, it will need to go through the planning process before work can begin.

The 480-acre Nine Elms district is now well into the construction phase, says Wandsworth Council, and is on course to create thousands of affordable and market homes, 25,000 jobs and billions in growth for the UK economy.

‘The area is set to become a new cultural destination with iconic attractions like Battersea Power Station extending the life and vitality of the South Bank further west,’ it says.

Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council and co-chair of the Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership, says the new bridge will have the potential to become an inspiring landmark, ‘heralding the changes that are taking place south of the river and making vital connections to the north shore’. The transport case is very strong indeed, he adds, and it be a valuable and sustainable addition to London’s transport infrastructure.

The plan for the design competition comes after a TfL feasibility study confirmed the bridge would cost around £40m and could carry around 9,000 walkers and 9,000 cyclists a day.

The competition will have two stages. Stage 1 will ask competitors to submit information about the people in their teams and to explain their approach to five design challenges.  A maximum of four teams will be selected for the next stage.

Stage 2 will be ‘a competitive dialogue process’ during which the selected teams will be asked to develop their design ideas and meet with the jury panel, the technical advisors and members of a residents review panel.  An honorarium will be paid to Stage 2 competitors and the winner will be selected at the end of Stage 2.

The competition is being run by Colander and the process will follow OJEU public sector procurement processes so the successful design team can be appointed to the project when it becomes live.

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