In 1996 the Financial Times held an international competition in conjunction with the London Borough of Southwark and the Royal Institute of British Architects to design a footbridge crossing the Thames between Southwark and Blackfriars bridges.
A long span bridge, as needed to cross the Thames at this point, is a pure expression of engineering structure.
A city centre footbridge, however, is equally about people and the environment - a piece of public architecture.
When considering a link between Tate Modern and St. Paul's Cathedral another element is vital: the pure sense of physical form that drives a sculptor.
A unique collaboration was formed which won this competition, creating a minimal design that gives pedestrians unrivalled views of London, free from traffic and high above the Thames.
The bridge opened in June 2000 and an astonishing 100,000 people crossed it during the first weekend. However, under
this heavy traffic the bridge exhibited greater than expected lateral movement, and as a result it was temporarily closed.
Extensive research revealed that this movement was caused by synchronised pedestrian footfall − a phenomenon of which
little was previously known in the engineering world. The solution was to fit dampers discreetly beneath the deck to mitigate
movement. This proved highly successful and the research undertaken by the engineers has resulted in changes to the
codes for bridge building worldwide.
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