The Upper Orwell Crossings Project, Ipswich

The Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) Competitions unit is pleased to announce the launch of a design competition with associated tender process on behalf of Suffolk County Council for the Orwell Crossings Project in Ipswich.

Commitment to fund this £77 million project was announced in the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s March 2016 Budget and will see the proposed construction of two new crossings near the town’s waterfront area, together with the refurbishment of an existing swing bridge across the lock which provides access to the ‘Wet Dock’ and its marina facilities.

This major infrastructure project will ease traffic congestion in Ipswich by providing a major new crossing of the River Orwell, connecting the waterfront area to the town centre and improving journey times for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians.  It will also deliver a range of economic benefits and act as a catalyst and focal point for further regeneration, contributing to the continued prosperity, redevelopment and expansion of the wider waterfront area.  The development potential of the man-made peninsular Island which separates the Wet Dock from the New-Cut will also be released, joining the Island to the River Orwell’s west bank.   

The Council is seeking to appoint an Architectural team with experience of collaborating on major infrastructure projects, of working within a multi-disciplinary team environment, and the design of high quality bridge structures to programme and budget.  The appointed Architectural team will join an existing project team led by WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff (WSP|PB) who will be responsible for providing structural and civil engineering input to the project.  It is envisaged that the project will also seek to utilise Early Contractor Involvement to aid development of the design concepts with respect to buildability etc. 

Suffolk County Council’s Member with special responsibility for working with outside bodies, Cllr Guy McGregor said: “We want to open up the design competition to find the most suitable architectural expert team to work with Suffolk County Council in the crucial design of this major project for the county town of Ipswich and Suffolk. We are getting some really positive feedback through our current consultation on this project and we look forward to working with the winning Architectural team to realise a design that fits with Ipswich ambitions and continued success in the future.”

Further background to the project and details of the selection process are outlined in a Memorandum of Information available from:

A Pre-Qualification Questionnaire and Scope for Procurement of Architectural Services is available by registering with Suffolk County Council’s e-Tendering system (‘Suffolk Sourcing’) at:

Responses to PQQs will be used to select a shortlist of candidates (minimum 5) to participate in the design concept phase of the competition.  The scope of the competition will require short-listed Architectural teams to develop design concepts for the crossings independently of the SCC and WSP|PB design team.  In addition to a registered practicing architect, Architectural teams may therefore wish to consider engagement of other specialist bridge consultant(s) within their team, which might include a structural engineer, M&E consultant and/or landscape designer to advise on the development of their concept proposals.

Each short-listed Architectural team who submits a compliant tender for the competition phase and gives a clarification interview presentation will receive an honorarium payment of £10,000 (+VAT).

It is the intention that the successful Architectural team will be appointed by Suffolk County Council to work alongside the team led by WSP | Parsons Brinkerhoff to develop the design proposals up to RIBA Stage 3 in the first instance.  Progression of the project will be subject to securing necessary consents and confirmation of funding commitment.  It is intended that the project will be delivered under a Design & Build contract and that the design team will be novated to the contractor.  It is currently anticipated that construction will need to commence on site by 2020 in order to meet funding conditions for the Upper Orwell Crossings project. 

The deadline for submission of completed PQQ returns via the Suffolk Sourcing e-Tendering system is 17.00hrs (BST) on Thursday 01 September 2016.

- Ends -


Notes to Editors:

  • Suffolk County Council - Further details about the Upper Orwell Crossings project can be found at:


  • Please ensure RIBA Competitions are credited when mentioning the above competition.  Competitions deliver exciting buildings and projects.  They drive up quality, stimulate creativity and innovation and generate a range of options improving choice.  RIBA Competitions is the Royal Institute of British Architect’s unit dedicated to organising architectural and other design-related competitions.  For further details visit


Posted on Tuesday 2nd August 2016