A winner has been selected in London's Nine Elms to Pimlico Bridge competition. The jury has chosen Bystrup Architecture Design and Engineering's graceful, elegant and functionalNine Elms Bridge unanimously from a shortlist of four, which itself was whittled down from 74 entries.

If delivered, the bridge will be central London's first car-free crossing for cyclists and pedestrians. Graham Stirk, senior partner at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and chair of the competition jury panel, commended Bystrup for aspiring to "celebrate the river" with its design. He also said the jury felt it took the most compelling approach to the challenges posed in the brief.

"Their light touch approach to landing points is commendable and the exploration of lighting and textured surfaces to manage movement across the bridge is both interesting and inventive," said Stirk. "They see the bridge as a sustainable transport link and piece of new public realm which should be attractive, fun and a pleasure to use."

Among the requirements outlined in the brief was the need for the bridge's span to be high enough for large vessels to pass beneath, without creating slopes too steep for cyclists or pedestrians. In addition, it had to be fully accessible, to be a fitting landmark and sensitive to its surroundings, to enhance and minimize the loss of open space on either bank where it lands and to integrate with the local transport networks on both sides of the river.

Bystrup says its design is also intended to respond to the historic context of the area. With that in mind, the span is to be sleek so as to allow for unobstructed views along and across the river. It describes the bridge as being "minimal, seamless" and "jewel-like."

The bridge is aimed at having minimal physical and environmental impacts. Among its features, Bystrup points to 360-degree views of London afforded to users as they climb the gently looping ramps to the crossing level and and an intelligent lighting system, with lights integrated into the handrail and deck.

Although the Bystrup's design has been selected by the jury as the winner, it is not yet assured of being built. It must first receive consent from Wandsworth and Westminster Councils, as well as the Mayor of London. The scheme would also need planning permission.

While no dates for construction or completion have yet been set, around £26 million (US$39 million) has already been set aside for the construction of the bridge, as part of the regeneration plan for the Nine Elms area. A bridge is expected to cost in the region £40 million ($60 million), though the final cost has yet to be calculated. Options for any additional required funding will be explored.

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