PDP London architects’ ‘Low Line Commons’ project have won the RIBA international design competition to deliver a green strategy along the path of London’s historic railway arches
Better Bankside, the Low Line Steering Group and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) are delighted to announce that the Low Line Commons is the winner of the international competition to develop an ecological vision for the Low Line.
Following the path forged by the railway viaducts through Bankside, London Bridge and Bermondsey, the Low Line stretches through some of London’s oldest neighbourhoods, connecting communities and offering a distinct perspective on an immensely well-known but ever-evolving part of town.
The Low Line will unlock the potential of our Victorian rail arches – opening up a walkway that runs along the base of the viaducts to create a new spine, supporting breathing spaces and a flourishing mix of small and medium sized businesses.
Blue Bermondsey, Better Bankside and Team London Bridge BIDs are the impetus behind the renewed interest in the Low Line, a long-term project which will incrementally unfold as different opportunities and strands of funding become available. Having a coherent and creative green vision for the project will ensure that it can be delivered with sustainability at its heart and have benefits for people and wildlife, encouraging more visitors to explore.
The RIBA competition
Launched in July 2019, the Low Line RIBA Competition received eighty-two entries from architects, landscape architects, ecologists, engineers, artists and other professionals, spanning thirty-five countries. It challenged teams to present a green and creative vision and strategy to underpin the future development of the Low Line.
The Low Line RIBA competition is supported by Lund Trust, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. The evaluation panel included Lisbet Rausing, Co-founder of Lund Trust, Graham Morrison, Partner at Allies and Morrison as the RIBA Adviser, Donald Hyslop, Chair of Better Bankside and the Low Line steering group, and Head of Regeneration and Community Partnerships at Tate Modern, and Adam White, President of the Landscape Institute. Entries were judged anonymously, so the identity of the winning team was not known until it had been chosen by the panel.
The winning concept, The Low Line Commons, was conceived by PDP London architects, working with Macfarlane and Associates Landscape Architects, Greengage sustainability consultants and Studio 4215 environment consultants. It aims to build a common vision for the Low Line and puts the local community, as well as nature, at the heart of the project. The design offers four interlinked themes to help guide the emerging Low Line – productive green infrastructure, convivial public space, diverse and green economy, and historical and cultural connections.
Nature is fundamental to the project; it will create accessible new green connections, and incorporate a variety of ecological interventions, helping to improve local air quality and create a healthier environment. It proposes a sustainable drainage system using ecological engineering methods, such as bioswale planting and street-level rain gardens, to avoid surface flooding and store water. The project features increased green infrastructure – tree planting, community gardens and wildlife habitats – to help create a ‘sense of place’ for the community and encourage more people to visit the Low Line.