Thomas Heatherwick, designer of the London Olympic Cauldron as well as the British Pavilion at the 2008 Shanghai Expo, has unveiled renderings for a garden-filled pedestrian bridge across the Thames. Though more than £60 million in funding must still be found to make the project a reality, Heatherwick will proceed to submitting plans in the spring, and the bridge will undoubtedly benefit greatly from the support of long-time proponent Joanna Lumley (Patsy on Absolutely Fabulous):
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. 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.
The bridge will connect Temple to the Southbank with an elegant profile across the river. The heavy piers on either side of the main span only serve to emphasize the thinness of the very center of the bridge, an effect obtained, no doubt, with help from the engineering consultant, Arup. And then there is that design touch which is so characteristic of Heatherwick: a flower blossom motif that striates the mass of the bridge and makes it seem to grow out of the river bottom (and that provided the inspiration for both the Olympic Cauldron and Expo Pavilion).