The 12 most ridiculous designs for the new Battersea bridge

So. Many. Questions. Image: Nine Elms to Pimlico Bridge competition.

Update 17/3: The four shortlisted designs have now been announced - scoll down to the bottom to see which made it through.

London, it seems, is about to get a new bridge. Not the Garden Bridge: since that'll be closed to cyclists, and barely open to pedestrians, we're not really counting that as a bridge. No, the new river crossing we're talking about is the one that'll connect the Nine Elms development with Pimlico across the Thames.

To select a design for the new bridge the council has held a competition. This, if the 74 renderings released on the competition's website today are anything to go by, aimed to select the most inspiring, most beautiful, and most totally batshit crazy design for a bridge it possibly could. 

1. The one which is definitely not a bridge

Helpful tip for architects: you can't just draw squares on a photo and call it a design. 

2. The one like a nightmarish Escher painting

Where does the floor end? Where do those stairs go? Why are the people so small? Why are the leaves transparent? Are those boys about to drown??

3. The one that's a spoon  

A touching tribute to London's culinary culture. Also, apparently, a permanent rainbow. 

4. The one that could water your lawn

It's the Millenium Bridge with sprinklers attached.

5. The one with all the fairylights

"How can we spice this up? Let's cover it in glittery lights, like the room of an 18-year-old university student on a budget."  

6. The one inspired by Windows Media Player visualisations

We're pretty sure this is the intro to a mid-noughties Ed Sheeran song. 

7. The one that's a circle

Because why cross the river directly when you could go on a 200m diversion? After all, it's the journey that counts, not the destination. Unless you're going to work, or home, or anywhere else vaguely important. 

8. The dumbbell 

We get it, it's so the cyclists don't have to carry their bikes down the stairs. But it just looks silly. 

9. The one with the segregation

Cyclists and pedestrians, kept apart as they should be. There's something oddly touching about those people desperately trying to scale the wall, though. 

10. The one that's a scribble 

No idea. Literally, none.

11. The one with the... thing  

What even is that? A lift? A furnace? We're hoping the bit on the right is a pedestrian catapult, and those tunnels are filled with cushions.

12. The one which will turn all of London to wood 

A magic bridge.

...And a bonus one (definitely not necessitated by the fact that we can't count):

The one that takes you back to the 1800s 

It's an ambitious project, certainly.

Upadate 17/3: The shortlisted designs, along with the designers in question, have now been announced. Sadly, all four look pretty normal compard to the designs listed above.

1. The one supported by a pair of chopsticks - Marks Barfield Architects

2. The one where it's too misty to see anything - Robin Snell & Partners

3. The one that's a long and winding road - AL_A 

 

4. The one with the pretty bows - Hoskins Architects


The four winning teams will now further develop their proposals before resubmitting them for judging, and a winner should be announced in the autumn. 

All images courtesy of the Nine Elms to Pimlico Bridge competition.

 
 
 
 

Here’s how Henry Ford and IKEA could provide the key to solving the housing crisis

A flatpack house designed by architectural firm Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners, on display at the Royal Academy, London, in 2013. Image: Getty.

For many people, the housing market is not a welcoming place. The rungs of the property ladder seem to get further and further out of reach. There are loud calls to build hundreds of thousands of new homes (and equally loud demands that they’re not built in anyone’s back yard).

If there was ever a time to introduce mass-produced affordable housing, surely that time is now.

The benefits of mass production have been well known since Henry Ford’s car factories made the Model T back in 1908. It was only made in one colour, black, for economic reasons. Not because it was the cheapest colour of paint, but because it was the colour that dried the quickest.

This allowed the production line to operate at faster, more cost effective, speeds. And ultimately, it meant the product could be sold at a more attractive cost to the customer.

This approach, where processes are tested to achieve increasingly efficient production costs, is yet to filter properly into the construction of houses. This makes sense in a way, as not everybody wants exactly the same type of house.

Historically, affordable mass-produced housing removed a large amount of customisations, to ensure final costs were controlled. But there is another way. Builders and architects have the ability to create housing that allows a level of flexibility and customisation, yet also achieves the goal of affordability.


Back in 2006, the “BoKlok” approach to affordable housing was launched to great acclaim in the UK. Literally translated from Swedish, the term means “live smart”. Originally created from a collaboration between flat-pack favourite IKEA and Swedish construction giant Skanska, the BoKlok housing approach was to allow for selected customisation to maximise individuality and choice for the customers. But at the same time, it ensured that larger house building components were duplicated or mass-produced, to bring down the overall costs.

Standard elements – wall panels, doors, windows – were made in large numbers to bring the elemental costs down. This approach ensured the costs were controlled from the initial sketch ideas through to the final design choices offered to the customers. The kitchens and bathrooms were designed to be flexible in terms of adding additional units. Draw and cupboard fronts interchangeable. Small options that provided flexibility, but did not impact on overall affordability.

It’s a simple approach that has worked very well. More than 10,000 BoKlok houses have now been built, mainly in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, with a small number in the UK.

But it is only part of the architectural equation. The affordable housing market is vital, but the cost of making these homes more adaptable is rarely considered.

Flexibility is key. The needs of a house’s inhabitants change. Families can grow (and shrink) and require more room, so the costs of moving house reappear. One clever response to this, in BoKlok homes, has been to allow “built in” flexibility.

Loft living

This flexibility could include a loft space that already has flooring and a built in cupboard on a lower floor which can be simply dismantled and replaced with a “flat-pack style” staircase that can be purchased and installed with minimal disruption to the existing fabric.

Weeks of builders removing walls, plastering and upheaval are replaced by a trip to the IKEA store to purchase the staircase and the booking of a subcontractor to fit it. The original design accounted for this “future option” and is built into the core of the house.

The best approach to new affordable housing should consider combinations of factors that look at design, materials and processes that have yet to be widely used in the affordable housing market.

And the construction sector needs to look over its shoulder at other market places – especially the one that Henry Ford dominated over a century ago. Today’s car manufacturers offer customised options in everything from colour to wheel size, interior gadgets to different kinds of headlamp. These options have all been accounted for in the construction and costing of each model.

The ConversationThey share a similar design “platform”, and by doing so, considerably reduce the overall cost of the base model. The benefit is quicker production with the added benefit of a cost model that allows for customisation to be included. It is a method the construction sector should adopt to produce housing where quality and affordability live happily together.

David Morton, Associate Professor in Architecture and Built Environment, Northumbria University, Newcastle.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.