The client for this competition is the Low Line steering group — coordinated by Better Bankside. The initial Low Line idea was coined by local Southwark resident David Stephens for an architectural competition in 2013, which considered a route linking Bankside to Waterloo station.
The concept has since developed through a steering group of initial partners including The Arch Co, Better Bankside, Blue Bermondsey, Borough Market, Team London Bridge and Southwark Council. This group is steering the initial scoping, planning and communication of the project.
An emerging Friends of the Low Line Group will grow to support the progress of the project and help to re-define this unique heritage infrastructure as a new series of places that become hubs of industry, creativity and entertainment across south London. This competition will be one of the first major opportunities to engage people in the development of the Low Line concept.
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While the Low Line refers to the immediate routes along the base of the rail viaduct between Southwark tube station on Blackfriars Road in the west, with Southwark Park Road in the east, we are also interested in how the network of streets and commercial, residential and open spaces in its hinterland connect into this route and where the opportunities to strengthen and amplify these connections exist.
We have deliberately not defined a clear site boundary for the competition. We suggest the focus should be on the linear routes along the base of rail viaduct, and the connections into the surrounding areas and existing networks of green infrastructure.
The ambition for the Low Line is that it becomes a world class walking route underpinned with a strong vision and robust stewardship and sustainability credentials. Through this design competition, the client is keen to explore several facets of this.
High-level questions that should be addressed through the competition include:
Designs should demonstrate that they have considered these issues in a meaningful way by, for example, identifying those areas along the Low Line which are likely to be heat traps.
The rail viaduct remains a working railway, carrying millions of people and goods across London each year. Due to this heavy operational use on the structure, there are a range of site conditions that competition entrants should be aware of and consider within their responses to the brief.
Works within 3m of arches must fall within these rules:
There is more detail on the site constraints and technical specifications for working near operational railway land in the ‘Resources’ section.
Due to the nature of the sites outlined within the Low Line scope, a specified budget has not been identified for this project. It is envisaged that the Low Line will be delivered, incrementally over time as different sites along/adjacent to the viaduct are redeveloped, or as different funding pots become available. Teams are expected to provide impactful cost-effective design solutions.
We welcome ideas and proposals that have sustainability at their heart and reduce the reliance on the use of new materials and natural resources.
Ideas and proposals should consider maintenance requirements, in particular should bear in mind the operational needs of the working railway should be considered.
Ideas and proposals should be compliant with all relevant disability legislation.