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Arcadis’ bascule bridge for London Docklands wins public approval

A new pedestrian bascule bridge in London’s Docklands has received “substantial public backing” at recent consultation.

Designed by Arcadis, Knight Architects and Kgal for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (LBTH), the proposed South Dock Bridge will support increased volumes of pedestrian traffic which are predicted with the expansion of the Isle of Dogs.

The bridge has been “excellently received and supported by a clear majority of the respondents” to the consultation, with feedback praising its design.

Held between August and October 2020, the six-week consultation was the project’s second.

The new design presented builds on feedback from the first consultation, which looked for a bridge that was elegant, unobtrusive, contemporary, with a neutral finish, and that somehow responded to the industrial heritage of the area.

The bridge has been designed as a sculpted two-span variable-depth steel beam with a single central pier in the dock. Each of these spans is approximately 35m long.

In addition to this, the bridge provides a permanent 15m-wide and 3m-high navigable channel for smaller boats to pass underneath and, thanks to a movable (bascule) north span, a 25m wide channel without height restriction for taller ships. The deck width varies from 7.8m at the south end to 15.4m at the north.

A triangular void in the movable span directs people away from an existing emergency staircase serving the buildings located on axis at the north end of the crossing. The north abutment hosts the drive mechanism and a concealed counterweight that balances the structure to minimise the energy needed to open the bridge.

Paying tribute to the history of Canary Wharf, the bridge’s sculptural geometry echoes the curved base of the historic cranes that were once sited along the quays when the site was a commercial port.

Once completed, the crossing is expected to become one of the busiest pedestrian bridges in London.

The Isle of Dogs in east London has been a major trading centre beside the River Thames for almost two hundred years, with Canary Wharf located there since 1980. The South Dock is one of two surviving docks and acts as a boundary between Canary Wharf and South Quay.

The bridge will improve walkable connections between existing public open spaces, like Jubilee Park, with proposed development in the area and local public transport interchanges such as the new Elizabeth line station (Crossrail) and the South Quay DLR station. It is also anticipated to improve access to jobs, retail, and other services at Canary Wharf.

The planning application has been submitted, and a decision is expected this month.

Work is expected to start on site in 2022, with the crossing scheduled to open in 2023.


Department of Civil Engineering