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Environment / Climate change

The firm behind that Nine Elms bridge design made of squares explains it was a "statement"

A few weeks ago, we rounded up the 12 craziest designs proposed for a new bridge stretching between Nine Elms and Pimlico.

Of the 74 designs submitted to Wandsworth council, many were completely outlandish – a personal favourite was the fairy-light studded party bridge – but perhaps the craziest of all was a rendering consisting of a moody black and white photo of London, with twelve white squares drawn onto it. Our comment at the time: “Helpful tip for architects: you can’t just draw squares on a photo and call it a design”. 

Now that the shortist has been unveiled (spoiler: the finalists are all really boring), the previously anonymised firms behind the other designs are free to come forward and claim them. And come forward they have: Reinier de Graaf, practice partner at OMA, the firm behind the design shown above, has written an entire piece for design magazine Dezeen about it. 

Apparently, the rendering was not an attempt to win the competition. Instead, writes de Graaf, it was a statement about the “vanity fair” of bridge design, and architects’ jostling to produce the most outlandish design:

Our entry was (and is) a statement, and by being a statement, its main aim was (and is) to turn the tables: it pre-emptively passes judgment on the other entries and therefore on the competition as a whole. Our entry served as much as an evaluation of the competition as it would be evaluated itself in the competition.

In other words, we weren’t imagining it: OMA genuinely were trolling everyone with a mock up a kid could have done in five minutes using MS Paint. They were, quite deliberately, taking the piss. Because satire, or something.

We also particularly liked this section, dedicated to yours truly:

Upon public release of the 74 entries (still known only under their code names at that point), CityMetric, a London-based blog, featured a list of “the 12 most ridiculous designs for the new Battersea Bridge”. Ours was firmly ranked number one…

In terms of sarcasm, we were in no way singled out – English humour is wonderfully indiscriminate in that respect. Considering the comments made about other entries: “The Millennium Bridge with sprinklers” and “Why cross straight, when you can go on a 200 meter detour?” we considered ourselves lucky, even encouraged by how apparently well our intentions had been understood.

We’re blushing. 
This article is from the CityMetric archive: some formatting and images may not be present.