Wing genesis of-footbridge_design@2c_from_a_community_perspective-1065_c


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Mark Wing (from Interrelated), together with Richard Woolf (from McDanielWoolf), prepared a paper all about their vision for Radnor Bridge. This is a personal project which has been going since 2010. In this paper Mark explains the why, where, what and how of Radnor Bridge. He was privileged to be invited to share this paper (in presentation format) with a worldwide community of bridge builders in July at Footbridge 2014.

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Wing genesis of-footbridge_design@2c_from_a_community_perspective-1065_c

  1. 1. Footbridge 2014 5 th International Conference Footbridges: Past, present & future Genesis of footbridge design, from a community perspective Mark Wing Creative Strategist Interrelated Ltd Twickenham, London, UK Richard Woolf Architect McDanielWoolf Ham / Richmond, London, UK Summary Two residents of West London either side of the River Thames, Richard Woolf (architect) and Mark Wing (creative strategist) have established an initiative to convert the community’s ‘need’ for a footbridge into a ‘desire’ and to see it realised. The aim is to build a cycle and pedestrian bridge between Richmond and Ham connecting two areas within Richmond Borough separated by 100m of the River Thames, namely. 1) On the East side (Surrey station) is Ham Lands – inaccessible, with leisure walks, nature reserves, heritage sites, polo grounds and sailing clubs, but with poor access to transport links and a reputation for attracting anti-social activities. 2) On the West side (Middlesex station) is Strawberry Hill – densely populated, served well by major transport systems, with busy roads and places for education and work but limited access to leisure grounds. Keywords: Twickenham, Ham, Pedestrian, Cycle, Radnor, Community, Innovative, Arcadian, Thames, Sustainable 1. Introduction “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm” – Ralph Waldo Emerson. Picture this; • Walking from central Twickenham and within 15 minutes being in the finest open land the Capital has to offer. • Cycling for 5 minutes to experience one of the greatest formal landscapes in Europe or taking exercise with nature surrounding you, • School children on nature trails in wild countryside experiencing bio-diversity usually seen far from London. • A spring picnic in the shade of trees by the country’s finest Tudor building or, after Sunday lunch, an autumn stroll to an idyllic Elizabethan Garden. • A reflective walk by the frozen waters of the Thames flood plain in winter, as the copper sun sets with the horse of the meadow your only companion. A distance of only 100m separates the community of Twickenham from the amenity and space of Ham and Petersham. So, the objective is to build on the success of the Thames Landscape Strategy over the past decade and the anticipated Ham Avenue Restoration Plan, to reinstate the Great River Avenue complimented by a new cycle and pedestrian crossing which allows it to extend its reach for the first time at Radnor Gardens. The enthusiasm is to see the Radnor Bridge built – take the initiative and look forward to its realisation.
  2. 2. Footbridge 2014 – 5 th International Conference - Footbridges: Past, present & future This paper will expound on the genesis of a footbridge design from a community perspective. With the; why, where, what and how behind its thinking. This project began as the result of a discussion over breakfast. Not for the first time someone had proposed that a bridge be built over the River Thames between Ham and Twickenham. But the location of the proposed bridge seemed ill conceived. Connecting Ham House with Marble Hill House means crossing the river at a location that would affect an historic ferry crossing and the protected view from Richmond Hill, which we felt was too great a challenge. Our breakfast conversation, in the presence of a local councillor, did not debate if that bridge was right or wrong; It is not what a bridge is, but what it does that motivates us. At the heart of the Radnor Bridge initiative are two guiding principles; 1.1. Connecting two communities Radnor Bridge will connect two communities. One through a formal “garden”, the other a natural “wilderness”, while at the same time create more open and inclusive neighbourhoods. It will link two separated worlds within the same borough and thus stimulate change – break down barriers, facilitate movement, sharing interests and goodwill. 1.2. Working with the landscape The natural topology of the land on both sides of the River Thames, where Radnor Gardens is located, provides an obvious crossing point for a bridge to be timelessly and woven into its landscape. Radnor Bridge will therefore be positioned where it will deliver the most strategic advantage to the wider community. “As if it had always been there.” Fig. 1 The view from above (Middlesex station to the left and Surrey station to the right) Black & White insert is a historic view c.1946-48, clearly showing the Avenue in Ham Lands
  3. 3. Footbridge 2014 – 5 th International Conference - Footbridges: Past, present & future 2. Genesis of our enthusiasm 2.1 Why – to build a river crossing The borders of Richmond Borough sit straddled across two sides of the river Thames. Only two significant bridges cross the river inside these borders. One is the fast A316 Twickenham Road Bridge and the other is the 18th-century stone arch bridge connecting East Twickenham to Richmond town centre. Much further upstream is the pedestrian bridge crossing at Teddington Lock. An old narrow bridge with staged access. It is not bike friendly and in many ways is woefully inadequate especially in the summer time when it is often over crowded. Fig. 2 Teddington Lock pedestrian bridge is not bike friendly and often overcrowded in the summer With Richmond Park to the East and the river to the West, the image of Ham is often referred to as the “Ham Sandwich”, renowned for its poor public transport links and limited access routes. A Google search will indicate Strawberry Hill is the nearest train station (if one could only fly across the river). Some like the fact that Ham is secluded and hard to reach, but in truth the roads are bottlenecked with people who are trying to get across the river at Richmond or Kingston. Richard Woolf (an architect living in Ham) and Mark Wing (a creative strategist living in Twickenham) are working hard to convert the community’s ‘need’ for a footbridge into a ‘desire’ to see it installed. Not for cars, but for pedestrians and cyclists so that the borough and all its treasures, on both sides of the river, can finally be opened up for more to enjoy; • On the East bank (Surrey station) lie Ham Lands – offering relatively inaccessible leisure walks, nature reserves, heritage sites, polo and sailing clubs. Being secluded as it is, Ham Lands have a somewhat awkward reputation for attracting anti-social activities. • On the West bank (Middlesex station) lies Strawberry Hill – a densely populated residential area, served moderately well by major transport systems, with busy roads and places for education and work, but limited access to leisure grounds and amenity space. In linking these two worlds Radnor Bridge will be innovative – transforming local transportation options while improving the rights to access. The bridge will feature split-level cycle and pedestrian paths, allowing pedestrians to safely enjoy uninterrupted views up and down the river while sharing the bridge with cyclists and commuters. 2.2 Where – to build at Radnor Gardens Mark and Richard’s plan responds to existing land topology in Ham Lands and Radnor Gardens, spanning an optimum point on the river for natural ascent and descent, to allow access for pedestrians and cyclists on separate paths. At the moment, Radnor Gardens is a little lost, below the line of sight and on the wrong side of a busy road it is often passed unnoticed. And yet, Radnor Gardens provides the only uninterrupted stretch of the River Thames visible from the high street. There is also a plan to introduce a river boat stage at the Gardens for pleasure rides and even river taxis. Pedestrians and ramblers will therefore be introduced to the gardens, with its war memorial and numerous follies, as a place of local interest on the doorstep of the newly refurbished Strawberry Hill House. Including a bridge at this point makes absolute sense as it will provide additional infrastructure to support the local investment in the area. It will create an easy link between Ham House and Strawberry Hill House, as well as perhaps help to square the circle with both York House and Marble Hill House too.
  4. 4. Footbridge 2014 – 5 th International Conference - Footbridges: Past, present & future Radnor Bridge will pay homage to the landscaping strategy of the past, while creating an architectural landmark for the present and an invaluable legacy for the future. Designed to celebrate a time when the bicycle has clearly come of age, as a means of transport as well as recreation, the bridge will facilitate improved access to Richmond Park and on into Central London. In this way Radnor Bridge will support the Mayor of London’s ambitions for a healthier cycle network while serving the needs of a substantial number of West Londoners. Fig. 3 Amenities, landscapes and historic Houses to enjoy on both sides of the river Although not highway engineers, Mark and Richard propose that a mini-roundabout be introduced at Radnor Gardens. This will slow the traffic near the two schools located on either side of the road, while also enabling cyclists to have easy access to the entrance of the path leading onto the bridge. Pedestrians will also be able to walk and enjoy the gardens as well as onto the bridge via access from closer to the riverbank. On the other side of the river there will also be access for pedestrians from and to the tow path, while cyclists will be encouraged along a continuation of the bridge in the form of a raised path following the existing line of ‘the avenue’ – a footpath which currently leads across Ham Lands toward Ham House and the Star and Garter on Richmond Hill (now the decommissioned war veterans residence) is visible on an axial route from the war memorial in Radnor Gardens. No other proposed bridge in the area will be as strategically well located. In this way Radnor Bridge will be a sustainable statement of past, present and future – a permanent structure, using passive technology, to facilitate the reduction in local car journeys while blending in to the landscape 2.3 What – to build West London and the borough of Richmond provide some of Europe's finest residential dwellings, highest housing densities and greatest land values. However a contradiction occurs at the point of our proposal for a footbridge. To the west, Edwardian and Victorian domesticity bounds the Thames at Twickenham. Green space is limited amongst the brick and tarmac, it is controlled and restricted. To the east of Radnor Bridge lie the open amenities of Ham Lands. Once flooded gravel pits from the 18 and 19th Century, this area remains a peninsula of wilderness with rich bio diversity, which must be protected and enhanced as a precursor to the footbridge proposal.
  5. 5. Footbridge 2014 – 5 th International Conference - Footbridges: Past, present & future Fig. 5 Ariel view of the bridge (computer sketch) 2.3.1 Visual stimulation The bridge deck will be bifurcated, providing two levels of transfer across the Thames. The first higher level facing up stream will be for foot passengers, the lower level facing down stream will be for cyclists. Height above maintained water level (MWL) is anticipated to be no greater than Richmond Bridge, however consultation with local yacht clubs indicates mast heights may establish this datum. We therefore anticipate a height clearance of 6.0m – 8.0m indicatively. Radnor Bridge will come to symbolise an elegant architectural form – designed to deliver a picturesque solution, which roles with the landscape and the tradition of Arcadian Thames. 2.3.2 Formal garden and natural landscape We propose that the bridge will be as much landscape as structure. The topology of the land either side of the 90m- bridge span will be harnessed to create two different responses. On the Middlesex station (Radnor Gardens) the formal gardens, which once were Radnor House, contain listed 18th Century follies, war memorials, bowling greens and play areas. On the Surrey station, the vast open common land of Ham stretches east, creating in a green corridor through Richmond Park to the heart of London and completing the Arcadian vision of previous generations. We envisage river traffic, both commuter and pleasure boats, connecting at the bridge alongside cycle, road and foot traffic to the west. There might even be a commercial opportunity for bike-park and café/restaurant alongside the riverboat pontoon to the northern end of Radnor Gardens. Most importantly, we see the footbridge and associated paths and cycle tracks being engineered to protect biodiversity. 2.4 How – to make Radnor Bridge a reality This conference provides our initiative with a reality check. This audience is the first to be presented with our vision beyond the residential enclave where the Radnor Bridge will be sited. We hope in making public to this knowledgeable and influential audience that our three-year endeavour will take the next step. What will be the next steps? Mark and Richard believe it is three-fold.
  6. 6. Footbridge 2014 – 5 th International Conference - Footbridges: Past, present & future 2.4.1 Secure funding Firstly, Mark and Richard are looking to secure interest and funding to develop the initiative. 2.4.2 Environmental audit Secondly, commence a rigorous environmental audit and feasibility study. 2.4.3 Commission surveys Thirdly, commission a topological and geotechnical survey and initial engineering assessments. Simply, we are seeking legacy risk takers like ourselves with resources. 2.5 Conclusions and Acknowledgements We perceive of this project as “engineering in a landscape”. Mark and Richard’s objective in delivering this paper at the Footbridge 2014 Conference is to present a vision to an audience who can make things happen. They are both committed to;… • Connect two communities • Protect and enhance existing and future biodiversity • Improve accessibility to areas of natural and urban opportunity • Stimulate and improve social and economic development • Support an established landscape strategy, providing improved access to space and amenity • Help shift the local value proposition beyond the global image of Twickenham as a rugby stadium • Shift political focus away from only ‘playing’ with the town centres to actually linking them • Deliver a vision of an exciting and beautiful piece of engineering in the landscape • Create a legacy for the enjoyment of generations to come 3. Genesis of Past, Present and Future Mark and Richard think of Radnor Bridge as an initiative of local needs coming together to realise something that can be seen as having national relevance. 3.1 Innovative Radnor Bridge will be innovative – transforming local transportation options while improving the right to access of valuable amenity space. The bridge will feature split-level cycle and pedestrian paths, allowing pedestrians to enjoy uninterrupted views up and down the river. 3.2 Sustainable Radnor Bridge will be sustainable – a permanent structure, using passive technology, to facilitate the reduction in local car journeys and creating a ‘new’ cycle route of national importance. 3.3 Elegant Radnor Bridge will be elegant – using low key, naturally engineered materials to deliver a picturesque solution, which roles with the landscape and the tradition of Arcadian Thames.
  7. 7. Footbridge 2014 – 5 th International Conference - Footbridges: Past, present & future 3.4 Economic Radnor Bridge will be economic – good for socio and economic development in the area while also being an exemplar of new community driven grass route funding. 4. References The Future of Twickenham . London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. Barefoot Consultation . Public Forum 22 - 24th July 2010 Twickenham Rediscovered : Twickenham Area Action Plan [ Planning for a Brighter Future ] London Borough of Richmond upon Thames . 22nd July 2011 All in One : Your Ham and Petersham Consultation. London Borough of Richmond upon Thames . 9th July 2011 A New Thames Bridge ? : Richmond and Kingston Informer. Friday July 2nd 2010 [ P. 3 ] Bridge Plan ' favourable' : Breathing new life into town. Richmond and Twickenham Times. Friday July 30th 2010 Pulling idea for a bridge apart [ letters page 27 ] . Richmond and Twickenham Times. Friday August 20th 2010 Should park be free of cars ? Support for the bridge. [ letters page 23 ] . Richmond and Twickenham Times. Friday November 30th 2012 Reasons to build bridge [ letters page 27 ] . Richmond and Twickenham Times. Friday August 27th 2010 Thames Landscape Strategy Review of the 1994 Report : Stakeholder Consultation Paper . November 2009 / March 2010. The Thames Landscape Strategy [ Hampton to Kew ] . The following are some of the policy references (not publications) which we have reviewed in preparing our paper. [1] Local Development Framework [ LDF ] Core Strategy . London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. Spatial Strategy Summary [ selected ] . Open spaces , biodiversity and the historic environment will be protected and enhanced. Draft October 2010. [2] Twickenham Town Centre . Action Plan 2010 - 2011[ historic ] . Objective [ 2 ] To make access improvements to the town centre for the benefit of all users. London Borough of Richmond upon Thames . TTCMB 2010 The Thames Landscape Strategy [ Hampton to Kew ] . Project Proposals [ taken from the 1994 report and currently being updated ] . [3] Project 7.1 Work with the Friends of Radnor Gardens and LBRuT to improve layout, seating, safety, performance spaces , screening from the road and views to the river and surrounding features of their park. Consider constructing a landing stage for river access. [4] Project 7. 2 Conduct a detailed ecological audit and consult with local residents to decide whether it is appropriate to proceed with the re-instatement of the main eastwest Ham Avenue, visually linking Richmond Hill with Radnor Gardens , and if so how this might best be achieved. [5] The Thames Landscape Strategy [ Hampton to Kew ] . Policy Items 7. 2 / 7. 3 / 7. 5