The landscape architecture of London’s proposed Garden Bridge

Two landscape architects (Robert Holden and Tom Turner) discuss the urban design and landscape architectural aspects of the London Garden Bridge proposal. We like the idea of a bridge-which-is-more-than-just-a-crossing but agree with local residents’ that it is in the wrong place. It should be a greenway and it should be part of the London-wide greenway scheme currently described as the All London Green Grid. See comments from Thames Central Open Space and from the Coin Street Residents. We don’t know how the Temple-Station-to-Coin-Street location was selected but wish there had been a full landscape architectural assessment before the promoters rushed ahead. Our tentative conclusion is that a garden crossing between the two Blackfriars bridges would have been better. It would be much cheaper and less visually intrusive. Nor would the nearby river crossings be a problem – because the Garden Bridge is conceived more as a destination than as a contribution to London’s transport infrastructure.

A Battersea location is also considered – and we wish they were proposing a bridge-which-is-more-than-just-a-crossing on the shortlist for Nine Elms. We encourage landscape architects to enter the Folly For London competition to make better use of £60m of public funds.

The landscape scenic quality assessment used in the above video can be found in a blog post on Landscape, Seascape and Townscape Assessment.

Tom Turner

Posted in greenways
3 comments on “The landscape architecture of London’s proposed Garden Bridge
  1. Tom Turner says:

    Richard Rogers is an enthusiastic supporter of the Garden Bridge proposal and reminds us that he included a bridge proposal in his ill-fated Coin Street re-development scheme. Did his 1970s idea result from a landscape architectural appraisal or was it a support to the Coin Street scheme? Hard to say but full credit to Rogers for his ‘strategy to make central London a more humane city. I proposed pedestrianising Trafalgar Square, building new pedestrian bridges, and creating a linear park along the north side of the Thames, to replace the four-lane highway that blocks the river with a torrent of traffic or a parking lot for coaches. I still believe this would create an incredible renaissance on the north bank, complementing the south.’ The Superhighway being built on the north bank would be much better as part of a ‘linear park’ development.

  2. Tom Turner says:

    Ian Ritchie, writing in the AJ on 27th July 2015, opposes the garden bridge. While sympathetic to his conclusions, I detect a whiff of sour grapes in his arguments. He reminds us of his own design for a bridge in this location; he remarks that ‘design for a privately-funded bridge would have to be marketable and ideally by a well-known designer’; he implies that an architect should have been commissioned for the design; he does not like the idea of a garden on a bridge. Does Ritchie think Thomas Heatherwick is not well known? Does he think a RIBA-approved education would have made him a better designer?
    Mud-slinging weakens Ritchie’s argument. The fundamental points are (1) the proposed location of the garden bridge is bad (2) the River Thames is much the most important public open space in London – and deserves funding as an amenity. The PLA policy of treating the river as an industrial corridor is a century out of date. We should be talking about are the opportunity-costs of the alternative uses of the £60m which will come from the public purse. ‘In microeconomic theory, the opportunity cost of a choice is the value of the best alternative forgone, where a choice needs to be made between several mutually exclusive alternatives given limited resources’ (Wiki). This would involve a consideration of whether the other £115m of the garden bridge cost could be obtained from private donors for a garden bridge in another location or for other Thames improvement projects.

  3. Fin Church says:

    Regarding the location; During a open lecture that Thomas Heatherwick gave in July (Shanghai), He did mention that (as I recall) the span between Blackfriars Bridge and Waterloo Bridge is the widest of the nine. However this is only true as measured from the north bank.

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  1. […] Holden and I undertook a landscape scenic quality assessment of the proposed site of London’s garden bridge. We concluded that King’s Reach has some of the highest scenic quality in Central London and […]

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