reForm Architects has revealed plans for a bascule bridge for Central London. The Rotherhithe Bridge would offer cyclists and pedestrians a direct route between Canary Wharf and Rotherhithe by crossing the River Thames.

If it goes ahead, Rotherhithe Bridge would be the first opening bridge to be built on the River Thames since Tower Bridge opened in the 1800s. Ignoring for the moment the Nine Elms to Pimlico Bridge, which may or may not beat it to the punch if it goes ahead, it would also be the first dedicated pedestrian and cycle bridge to cross the Thames.

More importantly, and unlike the Garden Bridge, it looks on paper at least to make practical sense to locals, creating an easy route on foot or bicycle directly to Canary Wharf and enabling commuters to avoid lengthy detours and poorly-maintained routes. In addition, Rotherhithe locals would benefit from links to the Jubilee Line, the Docklands Light Railway, and Crossrail.

Pedestrians and cyclists would approach the bridge's two decks via ramps which rise from each bank. Measuring over twice the length of Boeing 747 at some 184 m (603 ft), and weighing 1,200 tons, the bridge would take around four minutes to open for river traffic and cost an estimated £9 (US$13.50) in current electricity prices to do so.

"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," says Elliott Wood. "The bridges counterbalance wishbone system ensures that the energy required to lift the bridge is minimized."

Still a proposal at present, reForm Architects is working with engineering firms Elliott Wood and Arup in an attempt to carry the project forward. If they get the go ahead, construction is expected to cost £88 million ($133 million) and take around five years to complete.

View gallery - 2 images