Rotherhithe Bridge

Rotherhithe Bridge is a proposed concept design produced in collaboration between reForm Architects and Elliott Wood. The study commissioned by cycling charity Sustrans was to determine the feasibility of a pedestrian and cycle bridge over the River Thames between Canary Wharf and Rotherhithe.

The feasibility study (produced in consultation with Transport for London, the Port of London Authority and the Canal & River Trust) shows that by building Rotherhithe Bridge across the River Thames connecting Durand’s Wharf in Rotherhithe to the Impounding Lock in Canary Wharf, it would cut commuting times, relieve congestion on other parts of the transport network, reduce pollution and connect the people of Rotherhithe to the Jubilee Line, the DLR and Crossrail. Studies also show that a bridge linking the London Borough of Southwark to Canary Wharf has the potential to deliver significant economic benefits for both areas and support the continued redevelopment and regeneration of the capital. Research predicts that by 2020 there would be approximately 2.1 million bicycle journeys each year across a bridge in this location and more than 1 million by foot.

To overcome the numerous technical challenges involved in designing a bridge in this location, reForm and Elliott Wood developed a unique and elegant design that would have the largest span for an opening ‘bascule’ bridge in the world. The bridges counterbalance wishbone system ensures that the energy required to lift the bridge is minimised.

The Rotherhithe Bridge design has a central span of 184m in the closed position, opening to create a completely unobstructed opening of unlimited height for the largest vessels. Ramps rise from each bank and cross the water’s edge to form an approach to the opening section of the bridge with the decks continuing either side of the main cantilevered ‘arms’, providing continuous separate routes for pedestrians and cyclists.

Rotherhithe Bridge would be the first opening bridge to be built on the River Thames since Tower Bridge opened in the 1800s and the first ever dedicated pedestrian and cycle bridge to cross the river.

With its own dedicated website – – the project has picked up a lot a media attention including one of Elliott Wood’s Founding Partners Gary Elliott and Director of reForm Nick Randall being interviewed for an exclusive by national newspaper The Guardian and an interview with London Live.


Gary Elliott, Director at Elliott Wood said:

This is a hugely complex engineering challenge that we are delighted to be involved with. The bridge is fitting for such a significant location and would deliver tremendous benefits for Londoners. Not only in improving connectivity between the currently underserved area of Rotherhithe and the north bank of the river, but by offering pedestrians and cyclists a dedicated crossing that is safe and enjoyable to use.”

 Toby Allen, Project Lead at Elliott Wood said:

“The bridge is a fantastic project and we have worked hard to overcome a number of technical challenges to meet the requirements and constraints of the site. Our solution is ground breaking in terms of scale but relies on a very simple tried and tested bascule concept to produce a highly efficient structure.”


Bridge Technical Data

Length (Openable span) 184m (2½ x jumbo jet)
Height 74m closed, 98m open (above water)
Weight (Openable span steel) 1200 tons (4 x weight of jumbo jet)
Deck Width 2 x 5m decks
Closed height 20m (above high water)
Estimated Construction Cost £88m
Work Done opening 350MJ
Cost per lift £9 (2015 prices)
Open/close time 4 minutes
Total length of cables 1340m (5.7 x Height of Canary Wharf)
Hydraulic Ram Weight 8 x 42 tons
Hydraulic Ram Length 16.5m (closed) 25m (open)
Ram Diameter 800mm
Counterweight 2 x 100 tons


Design Team

Concept & Architectural Design – Nik Randall and reForm Architects

Structural Engineers – Elliott Wood Partnership

Cost Management – ARUP

© – Nik Randall – reForm Architects Limited

Design Registration – Nik Randall – reForm Architects Limited

Design Registration Numbers – EU number 002627687-0001 & UK number 4039251


For more information please contact Robert Pine / Jenny Jobs at ING MEDIA on 020 7247 8334 or /

Architect: reForm Architects

Images by: Keyframe Visuals / reForm Architects / Elliott Wood


  • AR Future Project Awards Commendation - 2016
  • NLA Awards - People's Choice - 2016