British designer Thomas Heatherwick has shown off his proposed Garden Bridge across London’s River Thames, which is now scheduled for completion in 2017.
Heatherwick Studio is working alongside engineers Arup and landscape designer Dan Pearson on the $250 million plans.
The design derives from a concept by “Absolutely Fabulous” actress Joanna Lumley for a new park in central London.
It involves constructing a pedestrian bridge covered in trees and shrubs to span the river between South Bank and Covent Garden. A public consultation on the latest designs was launched this month, ahead of an expected planning application in early 2014.
The 367-metre bridge will feature two fluted piers, supporting a promenade that splits into two and is interspersed with benches and indigenous plants.
“London is where it is because of the river Thames. But over many years the human experience of this amazing piece of nature has been marginalised by successive transport moves,” said Heatherwick, who also redesigned the city’s routemaster red bus. “The city on the north bank and the historic district of Temple is almost completely isolated from the river by the dual carriageway of the Victoria Embankment that slices it’s way along the north bank and other than its wonderful view, Waterloo Bridge is surprisingly unfriendly for pedestrians.
“There is now an opportunity to connect London together better, to give Londoners a huge improvement in the quality of pedestrian river crossing in this area, to allow us all to get closer to the river and at the same time to stimulate new regeneration possibilities at both ends where it lands.”
Heatherwick was awarded a tender by government body Transport for London earlier this year to develop ideas for improving pedestrian links across the river. “I believe that the combination of Transport for London’s brief for a new river crossing and Joanna Lumley’s inspiration for a new kind of garden will offer Londoners an extraordinary new experience in the heart of this incredible city,” said Heatherwick.
Construction of the bridge is anticipated to begin in 2015.