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Competition: Bankside Boardwalk, London

Better Bankside has launched an open design competition for a £77,360 modular pedestrian walkway on Lavington Street in central London (Deadline: 9 August)

Open to architects, landscape architects and other disciplines – the contest seeks ‘original, beautiful and functional’ proposals to temporarily extend pavements on the busy back street.

Planned to complete in 2017, the ‘Bankside Boardwalk’ project aims to transform experience of pedestrians on the street where a one-way traffic system is soon to be trialed.



Lavington Street

The winning scheme will be installed for at least three months in a bid to see how streets across the Bankside area of London could be upgraded in the future.

Bankside Urban Forest Manager Valerie Beirne commented: ‘The Bankside Boardwalk will be a creative and innovative structure.

‘The project will initially be trialled on Lavington Street and will provide a unique examination of how streets and pavements can be reconfigured to respond to the changing pressures that cities and towns face.

‘This includes accommodating increases in footfall and the need to navigate safely around building sites, temporary hoardings and roadworks.



Lavington Street

‘It will also provide a testing ground for temporarily reconfiguring streets in Bankside before committing to delivering permanent changes to the public realm.’

Linking the major Southwark Street and Great Suffolk Street thoroughfares – Lavington Street originated as part of Bankside’s mediaeval street network.

The road is home to a number of hotels and businesses and a planning application to redevelop 25 Lavington Street is expected to be submitted soon.

Proposals must encourage greater footfall along the street, be robust, harness sustainable materials and be recyclable at the end of the project.

Digital submissions should be no larger than eight megabytes and include initial ideas and a description of the design team and proposed methodology.

Interested parties may attend a break briefing between 8.30am and 10am on 9 August.

How to apply


The deadline for submissions is 9am on 22 August.

Contact details


Visit the competition website for more information

Blue Fig parklet case study: Q&A with Riyad Ghannam

The founder of rg-architecture discusses lessons learned designing a street-side parklet for San Francisco



Riyad Ghannam

How did your Blue Fig project create a new modular public space for San Francisco?

In basic terms, the parklet is an extension of the sidewalk that occupies the space of two parallel parking stalls. By being uniquely designed to complement the character of its neighboorhood the Parklet created a sense of place where there was none formerly. It was designed using a series of steel frames with adjustable shims that could be easily bolted together. The design’s modular approach allowed for pre-manufactured concrete pavers to be laid into the frames without any tools and to support other design features such as planters and benches. It was important that these accessories fit within the same module as the pavers such that the design could be altered to accommodate changing needs or future extensions.

San Francisco

San Francisco

Blue Fig Parklet by rg architecture

What considerations might be important when designing a similar modular temporary pavement for a busy thoroughfare such as Lavington Street?

Durability, safety and beauty should be the primary considerations throughout the design and execution process. The street is an unforgiving location and if the design is successful it will see al lot of use. Therefore consider materials that will last and are low maintenance. Also consider the vehicular traffic. The Parklet should have provisions such as railings or bollards to protect it from vehicles and discourage users from accessing it from the street side. In our design we also considered safe accommodations for those with disabilities including maneuvering clearances and easily navigable surfaces. Lastly, the beauty of the design comes in part from succeeding with the former two objectives but the ultimate goal is to create this sense of ‘place’ and as such should be designed to captures ones interest and imagination. For our designs, greening of the streetscape was an important nod to this criteria.

San Francisco

San Francisco

Blue Fig Parklet by rg architecture

How would you set about designing a pavement extension which could be replicated across a large historic area such as Bankside?

I would first evaluate the context. a design can blend with its surroundings or stand apart but either way to be successful it should respond to patterns, scale and other relevant design queues from its context. Address what elements are needed to enhance the streetscape rather than clutter it. Some considerations d landscaping, seating, bicycle parking or even other more unique features such as performance space or energy collection. A modular design can allow for these elements to be combined like a kit of parts where best suited.

From a pragmatic standpoint, consider the interface of the Parklet to the street surface and the sidewalk curb. Neither will be dimensionally consistent or level, so one must determine a cost effective way to solve this problem. Also recognize the street drainage pattens and maintain them to avoid ponding or collection of debris.

For a larger installation a unified design theme that has a consistent and recognizable architectural vocabulary will help emphasize these small urban spaces as landmarks. This is especially important in some areas where you want the neighbourhood to support this endeavor. A poorly designed Parklet will spark controversy and frustration among its neighbors but well designed, a great new space can be added to the public realm that helps weave yet another colourful thread into the fabric of urban life.