London’s garden bridge will be a jewel in a great world city that is still let down by its public spaces. Our streets and squares – places that should be for people – are still dominated by cars, and blighted by poor paving and street furniture.
The Thames, passing through the heart of London, is part of this problem. For many years it was an industrial river, and its south bank was a no-go area. Now the river has been cleaned up and the South Bank is one of the great urban promenades of the world, but we still have far fewer bridges in the centre than Paris has; the river is still a barrier rather than a setting for city life.
Thomas Heatherwick’s brilliant garden bridge will enhance our public realm and reconnect the city, strengthening London’s renaissance, celebrating the river, creating an oasis of calm and beauty, and opening up new perspectives on London – for locals and visitors alike.
The bridge is perfectly located in the heart of London. It’s a vital meeting point, a hinge between central London’s neighbourhoods. On the north bank, Aldwych (which will also be partially pedestrianised) marks the transition from Covent Garden theatres to Temple legal chambers. On the other axis, walking routes lead north through Bloomsbury and Lincoln’s Inn, to King’s Cross and Euston. But this route comes to a dead end at Aldwych; the Thames lies unnoticed down a dingy side street over a fast-moving high street. This is where the garden bridge starts.
On the south side of the river, the bridge will land on the spectacular riverside walkway that has done so much for what was once a no-go area, crossing the river where there is a 900m gap between existing bridges, and offering Londoners a new stitch across the river, as well as an unrivalled moment of calm and beauty in the middle of the hubbub of a busy city. […]