London Mayor Boris Johnson has given his support to a proposed "garden" bridge which will straddle the Thames River.
The plan for the new bridge, devised jointly by engineering consultancy Arup and Thomas Heatherwick – the architect responsible for the London 2012 Olympic Torch – won a competitive tender held by the Transport for London (TfL) department.
The new bridge’s design bears a strong resemblance to the High Line viaduct in New York, which saw the conversion of an obsolete elevated freight line into a 1.6-kilometre public park situated on the west side of Manhattan.
“The bridge will help support economic activity while providing commuters arriving at Waterloo with alternative options to cross the river,” said Michele Dix, TfL managing director for planning.
The proposed bridge will be situated between the Waterloo and Blackfriars bridges, and will connect the Southbank to the north bank of the Thames at Temple. Visual treatments indicate that its span will taper and widen at different points and that a variety of indigenous British plant species, including grasses, trees and wild flowers, will be planted on the top.
It is hoped that this “garden” bridge on the Thames will bring a much-needed infusion of greenery to the dense and congested London cityscape, as well as help to bring new life to the Temple area on the north bank.
“The idea is simple – to connect north and south London with a garden,” Heatherwick said.
Flamboyant London mayor Boris Johnson has long expressed an interest in improving pedestrian traffic around the Thames, and prior to the 2012 Olympic Games backed a plan for a 60 million UK pound one-kilometre floating walkway.
That plan capsized in 2011, however, due to concerns that the supports for the proposed walkway could interfere with the flow of the river and adversely impact other bridges on the river.
The design concept for the garden bridge is still in the process of development, and will not be officially completed or issued in its entirety until mid-July. Arup and Heatherwick Studio are currently examining the engineering aspects of the project.
Arup building design chairman Tristram Carfare says the natural construction strategy for the proposed garden bridge will be an efficient, balanced cantilever structure, which will minimize its impact on the environment of the Thames as well as use of the river for navigation and transportation purposes.