Sunday, May 15, 2011

Floating Walkway Will Greet 2012 Olympic Visitors

Daily Mail: It promises to let visitors to London walk on water. A £60 million ($97 million) floating boardwalk will be built along the Thames, taking visitors a kilometre along the river from Blackfriars to the Tower of London past famous sites such as St Paul's cathedral.

London Mayor Boris Johnson announced (on Saturday) that the kilometre-long pontoon design, known as the London River Park', had won financing from Singapore-based asset managers, Venus Group.

The walkway, that will rise and fall with the tidal river, will link eight pavilions themed on topics such as transport, innovation and culture, which will host events and showcase London. The design, by architects Gensler, is subject to planning permission and approval by the City of London Corporation and other agencies.

Mr Johnson said: 'We will proceed sensitively, working closely with our partners ... to ensure that one of the most famous and cherished waterfronts in the world is enhanced for the benefit of our great capital.'

The elegant structure allows visitors to hop on and off the walkway via gangways allowing them to explore landmarks, alleys and disused wharves close to the shore. Many of the cramped cobbled streets, with names like 'Stew Lane' and 'Broken Wharf' have become difficult to access as the city has grown over the centuries and are way off the usual tourist routes.

Floating on the water near the north bank, the walk will be interspersed with eight glass-encased pavilions, possibly housing a museum, a cinema, a concert hall and an eco-park amongst other attractions. Swimming pools are central to drawings of one futuristic-looking enclosure.

An advantage of the design, the designers say, is that it can be moved and reassembled in another part of the city and the 'pods' given new themes to suit different occasions.

'This will be an exciting addition for the summer of 2012 and a new opportunity for Londoners to relax by the Thames in the heart of the City,' said John Naylor, head of property and construction at Venus Group.

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