Foster + Partners selected as Architectural Team to join the Upper Orwell Crossings Project, Ipswich

Following a competition run in partnership with Suffolk County Council, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Competitions is pleased to announce that Foster + Partners has been selected as the architectural team to join the Upper Orwell Crossings project in Ipswich.

The judging panel, chaired by Sir Michael Hopkins CBE, selected Foster + Partners from a strong shortlist of five internationally renowned teams that also included (in alphabetical order of design firm lead): Adamson Associates with William Matthews Associates and Ney & Partners; Knight Architects; Marc Mimram; and Wilkinson Eyre with FHECOR and EADON Consulting.

Foster + Partners impressed the panel with the quality of their overall approach and thinking, including the initial design concepts presented for the project’s three crossings.  The approaches were considered to have the potential to enhance  Ipswich’s thriving waterfront, as well as acting as a catalyst for regeneration of the wider harbour area.

The county council and key partners, including Ipswich Borough Council and Ipswich Vision, keenly anticipate seeing the initial design ideas developed further with the wider project team and in consultation with local businesses, communities and residents. 

Cllr Colin Noble, Leader of Suffolk County Council, said:
“The announcement of Foster + Partners being selected as the architectural team behind the Upper Orwell Crossings is a great outcome for Ipswich and Suffolk as a whole.


The design element of the project is crucial and with Foster + Partners’ input I believe the final design of the crossings, once completed, will be looked at in the same light as their iconic Willis Building in Ipswich’s town centre.

We are excited to be working with such a highly-regarded group for this project that is important for the town as it enables us to reap benefits that will greatly outweigh the cost of the project.”

Ben Gummer, Member of Parliament for Ipswich, said:
“This is one of the most important moments for Ipswich for many decades.

It is difficult to overstate the importance both of what the bridge will do and also what it represents. The fact that we will have what will be a globally recognised bridge of beauty will say something powerful about our town’s ambition and our place not just in our county, or our region, or our country, but in the world.

We were, as a panel, profoundly impressed by the quality of designs brought forward by all of the competition entrants and I would like to thank them for the time and energy and passion that they put into their work.

However, we were all agreed that the proposals put forward by Foster + Partners were exceptional and the design concepts had an elegant simplicity.  The proposals also demonstrated an excellent understanding of the economic rationale for the new crossings.”


Sir Michael Hopkins CBE (Founding Partner, Hopkins Architects), said:
“The competition has been extremely worthwhile, generating a wide range of strategies for the Upper Orwell Crossings.  Apart from the economical elegance of Foster + Partners’ engineering solution, we particularly admired the integration of the pedestrian routes with the principal vehicle crossing which, taken together, will naturally encourage further development of the island.”


Spencer de Grey, Head of Design at Foster + Partners, said:
“Ipswich holds a special place in our hearts. The Willis Faber Building was a landmark project for the practice, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to the town once more.  The design of the bridges focusses on enhancing the experience of crossing the Orwell River, increasing interconnectivity and reducing congestion in the town centre.  The project also offers the opportunity to consider the design of the bridges in a wider urban context, creating new promenades and public spaces between the riverfront, inner harbour and island.  We look forward to working with Suffolk County Council to develop and refine our proposals over the coming months to help realise a new urban vision for Ipswich.”

- Ends -


Notes to Editors:

Images of Foster + Partners’ competition concept designs are available to view on Suffolk County Council’s Flickr account:

RIBA Competitions  Please ensure RIBA Competitions is credited when mentioning the above competition.  RIBA Competitions delivers choice, inspiration and value to clients through expertly run competitive selection processes.  The dedicated RIBA Competitions team can help you explore the full potential of your project, for further information visit or email

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a global professional membership body that serves its members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment.
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Suffolk County Council - Further details about the Upper Orwell Crossings project can be found at:


Posted on Monday 13th March 2017