The 1,204-foot-long Garden Bridge, due to open in 2018, will reach from Temple Underground station on the north side to the Southbank’s cultural hub, creating a 27,000-square-foot garden planted with 270 trees, 1,650 shrubs, hedging plants and climbers, over 27,000 hardy perennials, ferns and grasses and 72,000 bulbs. The aim, says Heatherwick, is to “allow Londoners to rediscover the amazing piece of nature that is the River Thames”.
Up to 9,000 people are expected to use the bridge every day, the majority of whom will be commuters choosing a more scenic route to and from work. There will be “quantifiable economic benefits” amounting to £330 million over the next 60 years, according to the Garden Bridge Trust, a charity devoted to making the new structure a reality.
London’s Garden Bridge is, however, just one element of a wider celebration of urban ecology in the British capital. Grander plans to create “green corridors” across the city are gaining traction, with five of London’s greatest estates—including those owned by the Duke of Westminster and the Crown—recently joining forces to deliver the world’s first industry-led urban ecology project. Wild West End involves these five estates, which between them own the majority of central London, actively creating “green stepping stones” of planted roofs and wildlife havens across the city to boost ecological diversity and—hopefully—improve the quality of air and of life in the city.
Estimated cost: $250 million
Expected completion date: 2018
Distance from Conrad London St James: 12 minutes by cab