Foster + Partners Launch Proposals for Thames Hub

has launched proposals for the Thames Hub as “An Integrated Vision for Britain”. The self-funded collaboration between Foster + Partners, Halcrow and Volterra has produced a detailed, holistic vision for Britain’s future development of infrastructure.

The rapidly population growth and evolving global economy has put pressure on UK’s aged infrastructure. The study describes the Spine, which will combine rail, energy, communications and data throughout the entire length of the UK. The Spine is supported by the proposed Thames Hub, introducing a new river barrier and crossing, an international airport, and a shipping and rail complex.

The Thames Hub plans to maximize Britain trade links with the rest of world, stimulate job creation, and boost the economies of the Midlands and the North by providing direct connections to the cities and markets of Europe.

Continue reading for more detailed information and images.


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Norman Foster, founder and chairman of Foster + Partners, stated: “If we are to establish a modern transport and energy infrastructure in Britain for this century and beyond, we need to recapture the foresight and political courage of our 19th century forebears and draw on our traditions of engineering, design and landscape. If we don’t then we are denying future generations to come. We are rolling over and saying we are no longer competitive – and this is a competitive world. So I do not believe we have a choice.”

Barrier © Foster + Partners

The proposal includes a new barrier crossing that will harness tidal power to generate carbon-free energy and provide flood protection to London and the Thames Gateway into the 22nd century.

High-Speed Rail © Foster + Partners

Proposed transportation infrastructure includes a four-track, high-speed passenger and freight Orbital Rail that will link London’s radial lines, a high-speed rail line to the Midlands and the North, the Thames Estuary ports, High Speed 1 (Channel Tunnel to London), and European networks.

Aerial © Foster + Partners

The Estuary Airport will handle 150 million passengers per annum and retain the UK’s global aviation hub status. The logistics matrix integrated within the airport connects the Thames Estuary Ports and the ports of Liverpool, Southampton and Felixstowe.

The comprehensive environmental management strategy minimizes the impact of development and provides opportunities for new wildlife habitats while reducing pressure on foreshore habitats from rising sea levels and storm activity.

© Foster + Partners

Halcrow group board director, David Kerr, stated: “As infrastructure specialists, our role is to support society by taking on the big issues that affect us all – water, transportation, energy, and creating places to live and work. Great challenges require bold solutions, which is why I believe our Thames Hub vision is critical to society and to the country’s economic prosperity. If we don’t sustain and invest in infrastructure, then it’s at our peril. If the UK is to remain globally competitive, these proposals need to be seriously considered.”

The Halcrow and Foster + Partners Thames Hub vision is supported by renowned economist Bridget Rosewell, chairman of Volterra Consulting and founder member of The Thames Estuary Research and Development Company (TESTRAD).

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "Foster + Partners Launch Proposals for Thames Hub" 03 Nov 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 30 May 2015. <>
  • Mo

    He really is the most charismatic and inspirational speaker…..and a brilliant designer. I wish he had more time to give to his projects in the office. A true legend

  • Bopp

    Sounds pretty logical to me, although this clip is naturally not enough information to judge the plan. More a trailer.

    The only thing that I dislike is the train in a ditch: I understand that when you’re taking a hike you rather don’t see a lot of trains or infrastructure, but on the other hand, I like travelling by train because I can see something from the changing landscape. This is why I prefer trains from airplanes (a lot more polluting and when the costs go down I would take the train without thinking).
    It would be a shame to take the experience of nature from the traveler while we try to create awareness of loosing the planet where we are living on.

    • Allan

      I think the compromise would be to hide the train in a ditch occasionally. It would make the experience richer. Also, for a while it could hover above the landscape like a plane (but on a bridge of course).

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  • ron

    So he has decided how to remove the SS Richard Montgomery wreck which must be done before any estuary airport can even be thought about. Thought not… Even more difficult if he had a solution with the government not allowing even a mention of it in mainline press. Another pointless bit of incomplete reporting saying nothing.