Thomas Heatherwick reveals garden
bridge designed for River Thames


News: Thomas Heatherwick has released images of a proposal for a garden to span the River Thames on a new pedestrian bridge (+ slideshow).

The design was developed by Heatherwick Studio after Transport for London awarded it a tender to develop ideas for improving pedestrian links across the river.

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Images show two fluted piers supporting a walkway planted with trees, grasses and flowers, offering views of the surrounding city.

"With its rich heritage of allotments, gardens, heathland, parks and squares, London is one of the greenest cities in the world," says Thomas Heatherwick. "In this context we are excited to have been selected by TFL to explore the opportunity of a pedestrian river crossing. The idea is simple; to connect north and south London with a garden."

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The structure is proposed for a site between the existing Blackfriars and Waterloo bridges, and will cost £60 million, which Heatherwick will be required to raise from private investors.

Isabel Dedring, London's deputy mayor for transport told the Evening Standard that "The mayor has been keen to find an iconic piece of green infrastructure that can symbolise London as a high quality of life place to live," adding "but if private sector funding isn’t forthcoming then the project isn’t going to be able to go ahead."

This would be the first new bridge built on the river since the Millennium Bridge by Foster + Partners, which originally opened in 2000 but was closed due to safety concerns and reopened in 2002.

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Heatherwick Studio says it has been working on the idea with actor and campaigner Joanna Lumley, who adds: "It's quite strange to talk of something that doesn't exist yet, but the Garden Bridge is already vivid in the plans and the imagination. This garden will be sensational in every way: a place with no noise or traffic where the only sounds will be birdsong and bees buzzing and the wind in the trees, and below the steady rush of water."

"It will be the slowest way to cross the river, as people will dawdle and lean on parapets and stare at the great cityscapes all around; but it will also be a safe and swift way for the weary commuter to make his way back over the Thames," says Lumley.

"There will be grasses, trees, wild flowers, and plants, unique to London's natural riverside habitat. And there will be blossom in the spring and even a Christmas tree in mid-winter. I believe it will bring to Londoners and visitors alike peace and beauty and magic."

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Thomas Heatherwick designed the cauldron for the London 2012 Olympics and told us that its lighting was conceived as a religious ceremony.

Heatherwick's design for a new bus took to the streets of London last year, and he has also recently designed a distillery and visitor centre for gin brand Bombay Sapphire - see all design by Thomas Heatherwick.

Yesterday the winners were announced in a competition to develop a new green space linking sites on London's Southbank, which aims to rival the popular High Line park in New York - see all stories about parks and gardens.

We've also recently reported on a series of bridges in the Netherlands that were copied from the fictions structures depicted on banknotes - see all stories about bridge design.

Visualisations are by Heatherwick Studio.

  • Lenny Pantone

    Heatherwick’s only clients: Boris Johnson and the Tory party. Do the cheques and the column inches make up for constantly aligning one’s studio with these Etonians, who have no love of design, design education, or the future of design? While Heatherwick pulls off audacious commissions, one has to question their shameless allegiance.

    • Juan Galicia

      Come on… If you are getting work you’ll do your best to make it work for the general public, to make people’s lives better with it. Doesn’t matter who asked you do it.

      Would you say Tadao Ando or Le Corbusier should be (have been) ashamed to have done churches? Even though Tadao isn’t Christian or Catholic and Le Corbusier was an atheist? This isn’t about the political and social ideology of your client, it’s about the quality of the work and if such works helps its users.

    • Boris

      Just out of interest, who in the Labour party has a love of design?

    • christine

      Just a question: how can you recognise if a roof, a column or a wall is right or left wing?

    • Getoverit

      Is this your application for least intelligent poster on Dezeen?

  • Manky

    People are such miseries. This is a beautiful idea, that will improve people’s lives, and allow Londoners to enjoy their city even more. What’s not to love?

  • Scott W

    The Millenium Bridge meets the High Line. Fantastic idea, hope to see it get built!

  • zizi

    Like the concept but the railings are wrong on so meny levels.

  • Anon

    Only clients? Bizarre comment!

  • I’m seeing reports it’s come in at £60m, wowsers. That’s a really expensive footbridge. I’m not sure it will get built unless a bank/oil company/tobacco giant gets to plaster its name all over it.

  • Nick Simpson

    This is great, as long as absolutely no public money is spent on it. There's simply no need for an extra bridge in this location. It'll be nice if it happens though…

  • This is conceptually weak from my perspective. It dissolves without elegance a very relevant element in the experience of crossing a bridge, which is to see the other side (where you’re headed to). Trees on a bridge is not a new concept either (Emilio Ambasz, probably the father of all greenery on buildings!).

    • really?

      "So I was crossing the bridge when all of a sudden, there were trees in front of me! I panicked, not knowing how I would reach the other side, so I turned back and took another bridge."

  • Prole

    This is just J. Mayer H. Metropol Parasol plonked into the Thames. Must try harder.

  • OMG

    It’s not great and it’s not bad, it’s so so.

    Not an original idea, not particularly well executed, nothing clever. Quite average.

  • Ruth

    Wes, it's just an old design that was never picked up by a client. It's been laying around the studio for longer than the B of the Bang… oops did I just say something I shouldn't have… not the 'B' word. We don't talk about that one.

  • dunkelblum
  • Tim H

    The beauty of architecture has gone backwards and is still accelerating away in reverse too. Look at all of the beautiful old bridges along the Thames and then look at this awful plastic-looking joke. Which looks better?

    Some traditional style architecture would make so much more of a statement than this upturned meringue that’s been unveiled.

  • Kate Millington

    Why are there so many couples traversing Heatherwick’s bridge?

  • How about building a bridge where people need one further down the river connecting Canada Water to Canary Wharf and from there to North Greenwich.

  • Cornelis vanSpronsen

    I love the top horizontal surface and hate the supporting structure. From the side it's hideous but from the air it's a piece of heaven.

  • Cornelis vanSpronsen

    It functions better as a park than a bridge, but is that so bad?

  • It would be a better idea, in regards of London’s river infrastructure, to get the Thames Path, that runs between existing bridges, working properly. The banks of the Thames are still under-utilised in terms of pedestrian traffic flow. There were some proposals pre-Olympics regarding this but they seem to have fallen by the wayside.

  • Leia

    So this will be another bridge that will be a frustration for cyclists! We live in 2013 and if we want to prove we are moving forward, we have to show we are learning some good lessons.

    I really don’t want to see just another bridge like the Millennium where it’s a pain even to walk next to your bike. Look at Copenhagen, learn from it, design cities for people please!

  • Mike

    It seems like a good idea, but would it be able to open up for ships passing through like Tower Bridge? Just a thought…