Lower Thames Crossing

Working in the same capacity as we have for the past 15 years on Thames Tideway Tunnel, we were appointed by the multi disciplinary CASCADE design team (the partnership of Jacobs, COWI and Arcadis) as lead architects in 2017 on the multi billion pound Lower Thames Crossing to develop all visible surface elements of the 23km long highway up to DCO submission and main works tender.


Highlighting the national significance of the scheme, the UK Government’s Department for Transport said “We are making the biggest investment in improving our roads since the 1970s, ensuring journeys are quicker and safer. The Lower Thames Crossing will help transform journeys, create new business opportunities in Kent and Essex and unlock productivity across the UK. It will also cut congestion at the Dartford Crossing and improve connectivity from our industrial heartland to our ports in the South East.

With its twin bored 4km tunnel under the River Thames, Lower Thames Crossing is a major new road in the south east of England that will nearly double the road capacity able to cross the River Thames and will almost halve vehicular northbound journey times at the heavily congested Dartford Tunnel. Linking the Essex in the north and Tilbury in the south, it will be the UK’s longest and most sustainable road tunnel and the world’s third largest bored tunnel. It is also the most ambitious road project in the UK since the M25 opened 30 years ago.

Set against this highly demanding context and working closely and collaboratively with the multi disciplinary CASCADE design and LDA on the landscape side, we developed the design of the routewide assets, split into north, south and central packages to ensure all component parts had a common design language. Our work covered the 50 bridges on the route, a number of which were ground breaking ‘green’ structures; the operation buildings and headhouses; the tunnel and portals; the non motorway user buildings; cycle, pedestrian and bridal paths; the interface with other 3rd party programmes like Thames Tideway Tunnel, the network or roads and public transport modes and the Tilbury docks and the heritage aspects like the linkages with the old Roman road and surrounding historic villages and landscaping. As with all we do the integration of the architecture and the landscape with the highly complex surface and subterranean engineering underpinned much of our approach..

Engagement with stakeholders was significant and developing a highly environmental and sustainable scheme was one of the pivotal goals, indeed ‘applying good design to national network projects which produce sustainable infrastructure to place, efficient in the use of natural resources and energy used in their construction, matched by an appearance that demonstrates good aesthetics as far as possible’ was the direction from the National Policy Statement for National Networks that was actively pursued. Given the wide variety of landscapes and communities each side of the river which the project impacted, directives like this forged a key design approach which we implemented via establishing a formal Design Narrative which set a context led, place making response and in so doing created an overarching framework for all design proposals as they emerged.


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