Recently Chetwood Architects unveiled a stunning proposal for a futuristic London Bridge that sprouts a towering vertical farm in the midst of the Thames river. The bridge’s solar-powered spires are crowned with wind turbines and house a self-sufficent organic farm and commercial center that takes advantage of renewable energy generation, efficient use of water, solar heating, and natural ventilation.
In Medieval times, the London Bridge was an active place covered with buildings and merchants on both sides, and a major thoroughfare for people and carts to travel from one side of London to the other. That bridge is long since gone, with many bridges having replaced it since. One of those bridges was even sold to a wealthy American and reconstructed in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
Recently, the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects (WCCA) along with the Royal Institute for British Architects (RIBA) held a design competition for a new inhabitated version of the London Bridge. The winner of that design competition was Laurie Chetwood with his vertical farm and public market.
Taking cues from the old bridge, Chetwood designed a concept that not only made the London Bridge a central meeting spot and place to gather, but also a place of commerce. The updated bridge, which crosses the Thames, would not only sell food, but would also produce it via a vertical farm. The bridge is centered around 2 main elements – a vertical farm and a commercial center for fresh food markets, cafes, restaurants, and residential accommodations. A pier connected to the bridge allow goods to be delivered and bought at the water level and even more produce to be grown via hydroponics. Two produce markets will be placed on either side of the bridge, one a wholesale market and the other a public organic market.
Beyond its organic farm the new bridge will also take advantage of renewable energy generation, efficient use of water and efficient heating and cooling technologies. First the vertical farm acts as a cooling tower, drawing cool air in at the bridge level and, while hot air is pushed out through the top. This natural ventilation also powers a vertical axiswind turbine placed at the top of the tower. Solar heating for hot water occurs in convection coils, while EFTE over the core of the farm provides a lightweight solar PV skin for electricity generation. Any excess heat not needed for the farm will be provided to the retailers. Rainwater collection will go to support restrooms and the hydroponic farm, and greywater will be treated and recycled.
The judges declared Chetwood’s design to be “A beautifully presented scheme, wildly imaginative yet very thoroughly considered, both in terms of its construction but also how it could sit within the wider context. The design refers to the surrounding buildings, using them as reference points and inspiration behind the form. It is also full of interesting ecological ideas and on all levels seems to work well. This was a unanimous first choice amongst the panel.”