Bystrup design team set for Thames bridge commission

A design team led by Bystrup Architecture Design and Engineering is on course to win the Nine Elms to Pimlico Bridge competition following a unanimous endorsement from the contest’s jury panel.

The recommendation, if followed by Wandsworth’s Council, would see the team named preferred bidder for the project and tasked with developing detailed plans for central London’s first car-free bridge for cyclists and pedestrians.

The full team includes Bystrup, Robin Snell & Partners, Sven Ole Hansen ApS, Aarsleff, ÅF Lighting Aecom, COWI Engineering and DP9.

The competition began earlier this year with the aim of identifying world class architects and engineers to take on the project. It attracted 74 entries from across the globe including some of the best known names in the design industry.

A summary of the initial design proposals from the jury panel’s preferred team can be viewed online.

Graham Stirk, senior partner at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and chair of the competition jury panel, said:

“This was an extremely difficult choice between four excellent teams, but ultimately we felt that Bysrup and their partners had the most compelling approach to the challenges posed in our brief. Their strategy is elegant and simple, they aspire to celebrate the river and create a thing of real beauty which is what this bridge should be.

“Their light touch approach to landing points is commendable and the exploration of lighting and textured surfaces to manage movement across the bridge is both interesting and inventive. They see the bridge as a sustainable transport link and piece of new public realm which should be attractive, fun and a pleasure to use.”

Erik Bystrup, speaking on behalf of the team, said:

“We are delighted to have this fantastic opportunity to design a new, modern piece of infrastructure for London. From the outset we wanted to design an elegant bridge that provided simple and uninhibited access for all, with minimal impact landings on each bank. We are very excited that this will be the first shared pedestrian and cycle bridge over the Thames, adding to the rich history of London’s river crossings.”

Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council and member of the jury panel, said:

“This team has impressed at every stage of the competition, combining a light and graceful design ideas with an inventive approach to the core transport challenges. We are convinced they have the talent to develop a successful bridge design which would be both a valuable river crossing and a beautiful addition to the Thames.”

The panel’s recommendation will be discussed later this week by Wandsworth Council’s finance and corporate resources committee. A final decision will be made by the council’s executive group on November 30.

Amongst the most difficult puzzles which the winning design team has had to overcome is the bridge height which has to rise high above the banks so large vessels can pass beneath. This has been done without creating slopes too steep for cyclists and pedestrians.
It needs to be fully accessible for disabled people, and bikes and walkers travelling in both directions must be able to get across safely and effectively without coming into conflict.

Other key challenges include:

  • Creating a fitting landmark which is sensitive to the different urban characteristics of each shoreline and elegant in its own right
  • Providing a safe and attractive link for pedestrians and cyclists crossing the river, encouraging sustainable travel between the two banks
  • Complying with the Disability Discrimination Act; ensuring it is accessible to all
  • Minimising the loss of open space and positively enhancing the public realm where it lands on either bank
  • Achieving a safe and efficient integration with the transport network on both banks

A TfL transport study confirms the Nine Elms to Pimlico bridge has a strong business and transport case and would provide another valuable route through central London supporting the shift towards zero emission, sustainable travel options.

A £26million contribution is already identified from the development of Nine Elms and further funding options will be explored in tandem with developing a detailed design.

The bridge is part of the infrastructure package needed to provide access to the new Nine Elms on the South Bank district where tens of thousands of new jobs and homes are now being created alongside new shopping and cultural attractions.

The competition is being managed by Colander Associates and follows OJEU public sector procurement processes so the successful design team can be appointed to the project.

The scheme would need to go through the planning system before it could be built, and would need consent from Wandsworth and Westminster Councils, as well as the Mayor of London.