Bystrup Architecture Design and Engineering, working with with Robin Snell & Partners, Sven Ole Hansen ApS, Aarsleff and ÅF Lighting, is set to win the high-profile contest for the new pedestrian and cycle bridge between Nine Elms and Pimlico in London. The team was unanimously selected by the competition jury ahead of three other teams on the shortlist including Buro Happold Ltd with Marks Barfield Architects, Arup with AL_A, and another Arup-led team working with Hopkins Architects.
The competition for the new bridge attracted attention early this year when the competition organizers released images of all 74 entries online, sparking ridicule almost across the board from Reddit commenters to The Guardian's Oliver Wainwright.
"[The Bystrup team's] strategy is elegant and simple, they aspire to celebrate the river and create a thing of real beauty which is what this bridge should be," said jury member Graham Stirk of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. "Their light touch approach to landing points is commendable and the exploration of lighting and textured surfaces to manage movement across the bridge is both interesting and inventive. They see the bridge as a sustainable transport link and piece of new public realm which should be attractive, fun and a pleasure to use."
"This team has impressed at every stage of the competition, combining light and graceful design ideas with an inventive approach to the core transport challenges. We are convinced they have the talent to develop a successful bridge design which would be both a valuable river crossing and a beautiful addition to the Thames," added Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council and also a member of the jury panel.
However, in spite of the high praise from the jury, there are still a number of obstacles facing the Bystrup-led team. The first will be encountered on November 30th, when the jury's recommendation will be discussed by Wandsworth Council’s finance and corporate resources committee before formally announcing the winner of the competition.
The design will then need to be adapted for any of the five locations outlined in a 2013 feasibility study by Transport for London. The selection of the final location will likely involve Westminster Council, Wandsworth's neighbors north of the river, who earlier this year lamented the "damaging impact that the proposed bridge would have on Pimlico’s last remaining piece of public open space by the river." Because of this uncertainty, Wandsworth's announcement of the competition winner stresses that "as part of this competition exercise, the competing teams were asked to prepare outline proposals to help illustrate their approach, but they are not the final designs. The final design approach is yet to be agreed and is likely to change and develop further. The aim of this competition was to identify a design team, not to finalize a design."