The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Competitions has announced that Foster + Partners has been selected as the winners of the Ipswich River Crossings competition, beating out proposals from a shortlist including Adamson Associates, Knight Architects, Marc Mimram and Wilkinson Eyre. The competition sought designs for three bridges crossing the Upper Orwell River that could reinvigorate and increase connectivity within Ipswich’s waterfront district.
The five proposals were considered based on their potential to “enhance Ipswich’s thriving waterfront, as well as [act] as a catalyst for regeneration of the wider harbour area.” Foster + Partners’ scheme impressed the panel for the quality of its overall approach and thinking, as well as the design concepts presented for the three crossings.
“The competition has been extremely worthwhile, generating a wide range of strategies for the Upper Orwell Crossings,” Said Jury Chair Sir Michael Hopkins CBE, Founding Partner, Hopkins Architects. “Apart from the economical elegance of Foster + Partners’ engineering solution, we particularly admired the integration of the pedestrian routes with the principal vehicle crossing which, taken together, will naturally encourage further development of the island.”
The winning scheme incorporates the refurbishment of an existing lock as one of the river crossings, and two new bridges, the longer of which featuring a series of sculptural, branching bridge piers.
“The project also offers the opportunity to revitalise the central urban quarter by introducing new public spaces and routes along the River Orwell, with pedestrian and cycle links between the island site, inner harbour and waterfront,” explain the architects in a press release. “The new bridges will be part of a holistic vision for all traffic – vehicular, pedestrian and cyclists. In particular, the main crossing will split vehicles and cycles/pedestrians to create a civilised shared public realm for all.”
“Ipswich holds a special place in our hearts. The Willis Faber Building was a landmark project for the practice, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to the town once more,” remarked Spencer de Grey, Head of Design, Foster + Partners.
“The design of the bridges focusses on enhancing the experience of crossing the Orwell River, increasing interconnectivity and reducing congestion in the town centre. The project also offers the opportunity to consider the design of the bridges in a wider urban context, creating new promenades and public spaces between the riverfront, inner harbour and island. We look forward to working with the Suffolk County Council to develop and refine our proposals over the coming months to help realise a new urban vision for Ipswich.”
Foster + Partners will now work the wider project team and in consultation with stakeholders, local businesses and residents to develop the project further over the coming months. Additional details about the project can be found here.