THE BLOG
08/06/2015 08:10 BST | Updated 02/06/2016 06:59 BST

1000 Days: Building the London Garden Bridge

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The Garden Bridge Trust have just released their timeline for Garden Bridge construction and it looks pretty exciting!

This new London landmark spanning 366m is expected to be completed by summer of 2018.

London is already Europe's greenest city with over 40% of city space made up by accessible green areas. This project looks to confirm that status with an iconic natural crossing of the Thames.

How to Create an Urban Paradise?

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The garden spanning the Thames in central London will act as a unique pedestrian pathway which places nature at the heart of the city. The bridge, clad with copper-nickel, is designed to look as if growing out of the river in two fluted piers which support the planted promenade.

Users of the Garden Bridge will travel through five distinct planting zones as they cross the river.

The horticultural journey starts on the South Bank where the planting is inspired by the 'Wild Marshland' that used to occupy Lambeth, and the 'South Glade' a woodland area with autumn fruit trees.

As people move across the bridge to the central section they will see 'The Scarp', an environment similar to a cliff top landscape. On the northern flank of the bridge visitors will pass through the 'North Glade', a second woodland area which takes inspiration from the parks and gardens of old London with clipped plants to create distinct forms. Finally as pedestrians reach Temple they will leave the bridge amidst the 'North Bank' vegetation with scented late winter and early spring flowering shrubs.

The 2500m2 of planted green space on the bridge will include 270 trees, 2,000 shrubs, hedging plants and climbers, over 22,000 perennials, ferns and grasses and 64,000 bulbs! This is designed to display year-round interest.

Dan Pearson, the award-winning designer of the bridge planting scheme, said: "I am thrilled to be bringing Great Britain's passion for gardens, gardening and horticulture to life on the Garden Bridge, using London's unique horticultural story to help inspire the design. There are so many exceptional moments from gardens past and living green spaces around us today and the Garden Bridge will complement and continue this rich history of horticultural excellence in London."

The bridge itself will link London's famous South Bank to Temple tube station and the vibrant shopping district Covent Garden.

Bridge Over Troubled Water

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The bold timeline for the bridge has however been set out despite the upcoming Judicial Review of the project in a few days time on June 10th/11th.

The bridge project has proved controversial with strong voices on either side commenting on the purpose, funding and impact of the new structure but a survey found 87% of Londoners in favour of the scheme.

This review was granted after the Waterloo Community Development Group complained that Lambeth council had not considered the impact of views the project would have or the maintenance costs of the garden bridge.

The bridge will cost a total of £175million with 65% of capital costs to construct the bridge coming from the private sector.

One of the criticisms of the bridge was the rumour surrounding charges to cross the bridge but the Trust behind the venture have now de-bunked this by stating that access to the bridge will be free with no charge or ticketing system and will operate very much like a park in terms of opening hours.

Thomas Hetherwick's Garden Bridge is not the only new structure expected to span the Thames as proposals for another new crossing at Nine Elms - Pimlico have been submitted.

Greening Cities

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I am a firm supporter of green spaces within cities and the eco-trend is sweeping architectural trends across the world. The blending of urban space with nature is giving rise not only to the now conventional roof top gardens but also more bold projects like this Garden Bridge or the High Line in New York (above).

Earlier this year I was fortunate to meet up with inspirational green architect Niek Roozen and his wife in the Netherlands who are currently pioneering cities with green at their heart in Shenyan, China.

We shared green ideas as I run my own social enterprise which develops eco gardens from un-used urban land. We discussed how green spaces at the heart of cities (both Niek's grand green spaces and my community gardens) can be incredibly important to encourage urban dwellers to re-connect with nature.

The benefits of these spaces are numerous and have been proven to have therapeutic benefits as well as the obvious environmental perks.

I am excited about the progress of The Garden Bridge in London and will be avidly following the development of this iconic environmental structure.

Check out the full details of the Garden Bridge project via their website.

Photos: Via, Via, Via