London launches design competition for another new Thames bridge

News: not content with progress on Thomas Heatherwick's controversial Garden Bridge, London is planning a second new pedestrian bridge near the Battersea Power Station development.

The London Borough of Wandsworth launched an international design competition today for a structure to span the River Thames between Nine Elms on the south bank and Pimlico on the north bank.

The brief is for a pedestrian and cycle crossing, and is part of a wider £1 billion infrastructure plan for the 195-hectare Nine Elms district.

A tube station for the Battersea Power Station redevelopment is also part of the plan, which includes projects by architects Foster + Partners, Frank Gehry and BIG.

The bridge is expected to cost £40 million and carry approximately 9,000 pedestrians and 9,000 cyclists daily.

Open to architects and engineers, entrants to the first round of the two-stage competition will be asked to tackle five design challenges.

The jury includes architect Graham Stirk of London firm Rogers Stirk Harbour, engineer Henry Bardsley, head of urban design at Transport for London (TFL) Robin Buckle, Design Council trustee Pam Alexander and Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia.

"This bridge needs to be designed to the highest quality standards: it must be inspiring, elegant and functional," said Govindia. "The conundrum of creating a bridge that can be readily used by cyclists and pedestrians alike, that also provides adequate headroom for river traffic, is at the heart of the challenge."

"The design must also win the hearts and minds of Londoners, particularly the people living in the local area," he added.

TFL studies had shown there was a strong case for introducing a new crossing for pedestrians and cyclists as an alternative to the existing Chelsea and Vauxhall Bridges, according to Wandsworth Council.

£26 million has already been ringfenced for the bridge. The council said that the winning design would be used to help raise further funds necessary for the structure.

A full brief and entry details will be available from the competition website later today.

Last week, Westminster Council gave planning approval to Thomas Heatherwick's proposal for a pedestrian bridge across the river in central London, connecting the South Bank to Temple Station near Covent Garden.

The decision followed a previous approval from Lambeth Council, meaning authorities on both sides of the river have now approved the £175 million project.

Engineers Arup and landscape designer Dan Pearson are working with Heatherwick to realise the project, which was originally conceived by actress Joanna Lumley.

But the project has attracted controversy for its cost, its lack of cycling provision and stipulations that require groups of eight or more visitors to apply for permission to use the crossing.