Floating path on London's Thames gets nod

LONDON Fri May 13, 2011 12:43pm EDT

A computer-generated image shows the plan of the kilometre-long floating walkway earmarked for London's River Thames. REUTERS/Mayor of London's Office/Handout

A computer-generated image shows the plan of the kilometre-long floating walkway earmarked for London's River Thames.

Credit: Reuters/Mayor of London's Office/Handout

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Plans to erect a floating walkway on London's River Thames, affording spectacular views of forgotten parts of the city, got a major boost on Friday by securing up to 60 million pounds ($97.5 million) in funding.

London Mayor Boris Johnson said the kilometre-long pontoon design, known as "the London River Park," won financing from Singapore-based asset managers, Venus Group.

The structure, that will rise and fall with the tidal river, will link Blackfriars Bridge, on the western edge of the old city, and run almost to the Tower of London in the east.

The design, by architects Gensler, is subject to planning permission and approval by the City of London Corporation and other agencies.

"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 mayor said, calling it "spectacular."

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.

The "promenade," to be built in time for the London Olympic Games and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in the summer of 2012 won the Mayor of London's award for planning excellence earlier this year.

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.

(Editing by Steve Addison)