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Floating walkway for Thames

A 1.6km long walkway floating in the River Thames could be built in time for the 2012 Olympic Games, after the conceptual design won the London Planning Award for Planning Excellence this week.

Floating pontoons

The London River Park design comprises a series of floating pontoons on the north side of the Thames, featuring five themed floating pavilions, and
connections with existing riverside pathways.

It will run from Blackfriars Bridge to the Tower of London.

Global architect and planner Gensler is now in talks with the Port of London Authority and the City of London Corporation, and is looking for a sponsor to fund the project.

“We’ve had a lot of interest from investors,” said Gensler’s global head of planning Ian Mulcahey.

The pontoons would vary in width from 6m to 15m, but detailed design has yet to be completed.

Strong river currents

Mulcahey said the structure would be designed for strong river currents. A similar floating walkway in the Australian city of Brisbane was washed away by floods earlier this month. A 300m long section of the Brisbane Riverwalk became detached and had to be guided under a bridge by tugboats before it could be secured again.

“We are fully aware of the strength of currents on this stretch of the river,” said Mulcahey.

The walkway would be built in a particularly narrow section of the river which Mulcahey said is subject to strong currents twice daily.

Permanent moorings would be built, although the pontoons would be temporary and could be dismantled or even moved to another part of the river.

Mulcahey said permanent structures in the Thames or on the river bank were both considered, but a floating structure was deemed simpler and less restricted from planning complexities.

The concept originated in talks last year between Gensler and civil engineer Michael Bear, who became Lord Mayor of the City of London in November 2010.

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