The competition invites multi-disciplinary teams of architects, landscape architects, ecologists, engineers, artists and other professions to develop a green and creative vision and strategy to underpin the future development of the Low Line.
The Low Line is a path through some of London’s oldest neighbourhoods, offering a new perspective on an immensely well-known but ever-evolving part of town. Following the historic rail viaducts just south of the River Thames, the corridor of the Low Line reveals hidden walkways and enclosed courtyards, connecting such great landmarks as the Tate Modern, Borough Market, Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge Station and beyond.
The Low Line links diverse neighbourhoods and communities, leading visitors off the beaten track and into areas of creativity, history, industry and entertainment, such as Union Yard Arches, Flat Iron Square and Vinegar Yard, Maltby Street and Bermondsey. It celebrates the heritage of the railway arches and unlocks the potential of derelict and forgotten sites.
The aim of the Low Line competition is to develop a unifying vision and strategy to inform the delivery of greening and biodiversity enhancements along and adjacent to the Low Line, that can help support social, environmental and economic well-being, and can be implemented organically over time as the Low Line route evolves.
The initial phase of the competition invites teams of architects, landscape architects, designers, ecologists and other design-related disciplines to submit designs anonymously, in digital format only. Five concept designs will then be shortlisted for further development.
The evaluation panel includes Lisbet Rausing, Founder of Lund Trust, Graham Morrison, Partner at Allies and Morrison as the RIBA Adviser, and Adam White, President of the Landscape Institute.
The Low Line has developed through a group of initial partners including Better Bankside, Team London Bridge, Blue Bermondsey, Southwark Council, the Arch Company, and Borough Market who are steering the initial scoping, planning and communication of the project. The Low Line name was coined by Southwark resident David Stephens.
Among the buildings, streets and spaces along the Low Line are Union Yard Arches (home of the Union Theatre, the Spanish Theatre Company’s Cervantes Theatre and The Africa Centre), Ewer Street (a secret part of Bankside just a stone’s throw from Tate Modern), Borough Market, Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge Station, Holyrood Street, Underdog Gallery, Maltby Street, the Biscuit Factory and the Blue Market.
Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, founders, Lund Trust said: “We are excited to be part of the Low Line project, which we hope will open a path for communities and nature to thrive. This competition is a chance to help shape plans for a green and biodiverse public space, and to inspire a vision for greener, healthier and more inclusive cities.”
Donald Hyslop, Chair of Better Bankside and the Low Line Steering Group said: “The Low Line is fast becoming a special public place for Londoners and visitors from all over the world. Our exciting new partnership with the Lund Trust and RIBA Competition offers the chance to plot its future. It is an opportunity to look afresh at one of the more special, intriguing, idiosyncratic and diverse neighbourhoods in London. We are looking forward to exploring new ideas that ensure a green and sustainable future of the Low Line and those living and working nearby.”
Graham Morrison, Partner, Allies and Morrison acting as the RIBA Adviser said: "The rail viaducts are an integral part of the character of Bankside, London Bridge and Bermondsey. As industrial infrastructure, they had long been a barrier but they are now being rediscovered, and this competition offers an ideal opportunity to knit them into the fabric of our neighbourhood."