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London's Thames 'Garden Bridge' A Natural Wonder

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Taking a page out of New York City’s Highline project, architect Thomas Heatherwick is putting the final touches on designs for a new park/bridge spanning the Thames River.

The project, which would connect north and south London, is currently going through the design motions, with planning approval and construction set for 2014. If all goes according to plan, the Garden Bridge should open by late 2017.

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But back to the design. As you can see in the these newly released concept drawings, it takes your standard pedestrian bridge and transforms it into a lush, natural walkway above the water.

“The idea is simple; we’re trying to create a bridge that looks beautiful, is durable, is efficient to construct and will support a garden spanning the River Thames,” Tristram Carfrae, Project Director, ARUP, told DesignBoom. “This is not an easy feat and we’re working closely with Heatherwick Studio to ensure that the design and engineering work seamlessly together to create an ingenious result.”

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Actress, animal/environmental activist Joanna Lumley, who has long championed a green link over the Thames,  worked with Thomas Heatherwick on the design.

“It’s quite strange to talk of something that doesn’t exist yet, but the garden bridge is already vivid in the plans and the imagination,” she said. “This garden will be sensational in every way: a place with no noise or traffic where the only sounds will be birdsong and bees buzzing and the wind in the trees, and below the steady rush of water. It will be the slowest way to cross the river, as people will dawdle and lean on parapets and stare at the great cityscapes all around; but it will also be a safe and swift way for the weary commuter to make his way back over the thames. (…) I believe it will bring to londoners and visitors alike peace and beauty and magic.”

Check out a video of the design process on the bridge below.

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