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Floating river promenade design wins top prize at London planning awards

Plans to create a new mile long floating river walk along the north bank of the River Thames, connecting Blackfriars Bridge with the Tower of London have won the Mayor’s Award for ‘Planning Excellence’ at the 2010 London Planning Awards.

Designed by global architects and planners Gensler as part of the London 2012 celebrations, the ‘London River Park’ is a conceptual idea to provide a continuous floating pontoon to run parallel to the existing disjointed pathways and streets that currently connect this important stretch of river frontage bordering the City of London.

The design also includes five large themed pavilions which, following the 2012 Games, can be used to stage large events and will also deliver a lasting legacy for London by incorporating new ferry terminals and mooring facilities. The entire structure could be moved elsewhere along the river if desired.

The annual London Planning Awards, jointly run by the Mayor, London First, the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and London Councils, were created to recognise planning professionals and organisations that have made a vital contribution to the capital in making it a better place to live, work, do business and visit.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “The brilliance of this design, apart from its sheer beauty, is that it will act as a fantastic catalyst for rejuvenating the Thames as a major transport artery. It also respects the northern shoreline allowing users to hop on and off to explore its iconic landmarks and wander through the meandering backstreets of the historic City of London. I am in no doubt that this could become one of the capital’s most popular attractions for years to come and urge investors to grab the opportunity to turn this vision into a reality.

“Yet again, the standard of this years’ entries are excellent. From libraries and schools to village greens, town squares and even railway lines, the sheer variety of the projects submitted gives me great confidence that progress towards transforming London is reaching every corner of this great city.”

In judging the ‘Planning Excellence’ category, the Mayor was looking for a scheme that embodied imagination, ambition and that can deliver lasting change for London. The London River Park, was particularly noted for its “its sheer simplicity and dazzling audacity”.

For the first time in the awards’ history the Mayor also awarded a commendation in the ‘Planning Excellence’ category. Clapham Manor Primary School, submitted by dRMM Architects, was praised for its “joyful response to tricky planning constraints”.

The contemporary, polychromatic design of the new wing was inspired by post-war system built schools and provides much needed additional learning space, whilst fitting into a tight urban environment. It was carefully crafted in consultation with staff, pupils and local residents, and the resultant reorientation of the school has improved security and safety in the neighbouring public realm.

Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of London First, said: “The London Planning Awards celebrate the best of what can be achieved in this great city of ours – they demonstrate what is possible when we work together to create great buildings, places and neighbourhoods. This year’s winners are once again outstanding and will no doubt strengthen London’s position as the best city in the world.”

Richard Summers, President of the Royal Town Planning Institute, said: “The London Planning Awards are invariably a highlight of the year, and the London River Park is an exemplar of imagination and problem solving. It’s an inspiration to planners who day to day try to reconcile competing economic social and environmental issues in achieving sustainable development”

London Councils Executive Member for Planning, Councillor Chris Roberts, said: “All of the organisations that have entered play a significant role in shaping our capital and these awards enable others to recognise the importance of the work that they do.

“We congratulate all of this year’s winners and thank everybody who entered for taking part. In particular we are pleased that the list of winners once again recognises the contributions of London’s local authorities to our urban environment.


Winner’s list, winner’s pictures

Best Built Project (sponsored by CB Richard Ellis)
Enfield Library, London Borough of Enfield, Shepheard Epstein Hunter Architects.
Commended: EC1 Public Realm Improvements, London Borough of Islington, EC1 NDC, Homes for Islington

Best Built Project – Community Scale Scheme (sponsored by Land Securities)
Clapham Manor Primary School, dRMM Architects
Commended: The Barn & Echo Garden at the Eastern Curve, Dalston, J & L Gibbons

Best Conceptual Project (sponsored by Berwin Leighton Paisner)
London River Park, Gensler

Best New Public Space (sponsored by Hogan Lovells)
Bermondsey Square, East Architecture
Commended: Waterside Gardens, Crayford, London Borough of Bexley

Best New Place to Live
Ewart House & Abigail House Extra Care Housing, Harrow, Harrow Churches Housing Association, Octavia Housing
Commended: Beaufort Park, St George Central London

Best Historic Building Management (Sponsored by English Heritage)
St Paul’s Church Yard, City of London, Townshend Landscape Architects, ARUP, Project Centre

Best Built Project, Five Years On (sponsored by GVA Grimley)
DLR London City Airport Extension, Docklands Light Railway

Mayors Award for Planning Excellence
London River Park, Gensler
Commended: Clapham Manor Primary School, dRMM Architects

Notes to editors
1. Conceived as an exhibit to celebrate the ‘Best of British’, the London River Park envisages five pavilions on floating walkways along the Thames, running between Blackfriars and the Tower of London. The designers, who also landed the top gong in the ‘Best Conceptual Project’ category, proposed that the project would be completed in 2012 to coincide with events such as the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Lord Mayor’s Pageant.
2. As well as housing a changeable programme of events, gardens and educational features, the floating landscape would aim to provide a lasting legacy of enhancement to the river frontage by incorporating new mooring facilities, ferry terminals and an open air swimming pool.

3. The London Planning Awards, now in their eighth year, are run jointly by the Mayor, London First, the RTPI and London Councils, and are open to non-members of London First and the RTPI. Local authorities, consultants, community groups, developers, public agencies, partnerships and other teams are eligible to enter. Applicants may enter their own work or be nominated.
4. Visual materials including logos and pictures of shortlisted entries, previous winners and images of the Awards ceremony at City Hall are available upon request. Please contact Emma Apter at London First for more details on 020 7665 1427 or 07535 977 004.
5. London First is a business membership organisation whose mission is to make London the best city in the world in which to do business. London First undertakes this by mobilising the experience, expertise and enthusiasm of the private sector to develop practical solutions to the challenges facing London. London First also seeks to persuade central and London government to make the investments that London needs in its infrastructure.

6. London First delivers its activities with the support of the capital’s major businesses in key sectors such as finance, professional services, property, ICT, creative industries, hospitality and retail. Membership also includes all of London’s higher education institutions as well as further education colleges and NHS hospital trusts. London First members represent a quarter of London’s GDP.

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