After years of pitching the plans for ‘a chance to walk through woodlands over one of the greatest rivers in the world’, Joanna Lumley’s plans for London’s new attraction have been approved. In contrast to Ken Livingstone, who turned the idea down, the novelty-infrastructure enthusiast Boris Johnson did not hesitate to take on the project. He envisions that The Garden Bridge, which will span the Thames connecting Temple and the South bank, will be the next London Eye.
The constructions are expected to cost £170m in total, of which £60m will be funded by the public, and the running cost will amount around £3.5m annually. A lot of money for a bridge with some trees and shrubs you would think. ‘Fantastical; surprisingly emotional; so much more than just a nice place to be with plants’ says Thomas Heatherwick, the designer of the bridge that according to him ‘will be a floating paradise for Londoners’. The designer is also the genius behind the Boris Bus and the Olympic Cauldron for the London Olympics in 2012. He freely admits that the concept is not his, but that of celebrity Joanna Lumley.
The Garden Bridge will be open to anyone and will contain 270 trees and all sortsof other plants. Despite the mixed opinions regarding the costs of the constructions and maintenance, Lord Davies, chairman of The Garden Bridge Trust, says; ‘I am sure once we reveal what plants are going to be stocked on the bridge, the public will really start to get engaged’. However, many Londoners seem to disagree and claim that it will destroy the appealing panorama of the Thames from St. Paul’s to Westminster, to which Davies responds; ‘In Victorian times, there was great scepticism about the building of the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Albert Bridge. Even more recently, there was opposition to the London Eye, yet no one would take that down now’.
With the success of the main source of Lumley’s inspiration in mind, New York’s High Line, the Garden Bridge should do just fine. The High Line attracts more than five million visitors annually. The almost two-mile aerial greenway of New York is pragmatic and yet iconic, ‘truly sensational’ says Heatherwick.
What kind of plants exactly will be planted in this innovative garden of London has yet to be seen. ‘We want lots of debate about the merits of a herbaceous border on which trees should be planted- the more the better. After all, this is the people’s bridge’.
What would you advise The Garden Bridge Trust?
Image creditsImage 1:The Guardian Image 2:The Guardian