Does London really want a Garden Bridge?

Does London really want the Garden Bridge? There might be some point if it seamlessly connected parks on opposite banks of the Thames, but it won’t! Connecting Temple to the South Bank, it will be nothing more than a deep platform with trees elevated above the river. At each end there will be awkward connections into the existing streets.

The Thames has lost its finest bridges such as Blackfriars Bridge (1769 designed by Robert Mylne) and Waterloo Bridge (1817 by Sir John Rennie).

Some of the best buildings along its banks, have been compromised. The Adelphi, the Adam Brothers development of elegant streets above vaults of wharves and warehouses used to look like this, but has now been largely demolished.

Sir William Chambers’ Somerset House was supposed look like this. But now the noble rusticated sub- structure is hidden by the embankment road and (of all things!) rows of trees.

York Water Gate (1626, probably by Sir Balthazar Gerbier but long thought to be by Inigo Jones) has suffered the worst fate. It was designed to provide a triumphal entry onto dry land from the river, but it has been rendered ridiculous, stranded below ground level in Embankment Gardens.

The Thames should be celebrated by great architecture, it used to happen and it can be done again. If we must have a new bridge let us make it worthy of its prime location. And why shouldn’t it be self- financing? Something like Palladio’s Rialto Bridge – beautiful architecture with shops!

Robert Adam created smaller version of the Rialto design for Pulteney Bridge (1769-1774) – an ornament to the city of Bath and a tourist attraction for the last 240 years. Who will want the Garden Bridge in 240 years from now?