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London Bridge staircase

Connecting London Bridge to the Riverside Walk

The new staircase and its elegant stainless steel screen, designed by bere:architects with structural engineer Capita, is clearly identifiable and its curved landings offer panoramic views across the river. The new route is spacious and light and benefits from natural surveillance, ensuring people now feel comfortable and safe when walking between the Bridge and the Riverside.

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Delivering the new staircase

The site presented many challenges. It is hemmed in by London Bridge and the Riverside Walk beneath and sits directly above London Underground’s Northern Line.

No vertical load could be carried by London Bridge at this location which presented the structural engineer with a challenge to ensure that it remained stable under dynamic loading. The resultant design solution included the addition of dampers.

Since the new staircase could not be supported by the river wall, it was instead supported by a series of 13.5 metre long piles, which had to be designed and installed extremely carefully to avoid penetrating the Northern Line which runs 15m below the river bed. The piles were also positioned to accommodate the tidal chamber drainage and maintenance access, whilst avoiding any damage to the chamber.

A steelwork fabricator, Littlehampton Welding Ltd, was invited to join the project design team in order to collaborate in the detailed design and develop the method of construction. The sculptural screen has a curving form, constructed from stainless steel trusses and woven stainless steel mesh. The louvered design allows views over the river and lets light though to the walkway below, whilst preventing overlooking into neighbouring offices.

Off-site fabrication was successfully achieved and the staircase was lowered into place in four sections, over the side of London Bridge. As London Bridge is so busy with pedestrians during the working week, the structure was delivered to site over the course of seven weekends.

Why the change was necessary

The previous staircase, constructed in the early 1970s, was sandwiched between the bridge and the neighbouring building and led users along a series of twists and turns through enclosed spaces. This resulted in a route that was not only uncomfortable to use, but hard to find and prone to anti-social behaviour and crime. It was an unpleasant environment where the public did not feel safe, particularly at night.

Published:
14 May 2015
Last Modified:
20 May 2016

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