Heatherwick won a Transport for London tender to improve pedestrian access across the river.
Heatherwick says, ‘The idea is simple; to connect north and south London with a garden. We have been working with actor and campaigner Joanna Lumley, who has been a proponent of such an idea for several years.’
Grasses, trees, wild flowers and plants peculiar to London’s natural riverside habitat have been incorporated into the plans.
The design is in the spirit of London, according to Heatherwick, who says, ‘With its rich heritage of allotments, gardens, heathland, parks and squares, London is one of the greenest cities in the world. In this context we are excited to have been selected by TfL to explore the opportunity of a pedestrian river crossing.’
Lumley who is championing the concept says, ‘This garden will be 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.’
She also says it will be the slowest way to cross the river ‘as people will dawdle and lean on parapets and stare at the great cityscapes’ yet it will also be a thoroughfare for the ‘weary commuter’.
The design plans explore the idea that there might be direct pedestrian routes as well as space to meander.
Heatherwick is now working with engineering consultancy Arup in order to make a planning application in April 2014, which means the earliest the bridge can be completed is 2016. The total cost will need to be met by private sponsors.