World class architects lined up to design Ipswich bridges – March 2017

The architectural practice headed by Sir Norman Foster, creator of some of the world’s most highly acclaimed modern buildings, has been appointed to design three bridges over the river Orwell in Ipswich.
It’s not the team’s first foray into the town. These were the people behind the world renowned Willis building (now Grade 1 listed), which – quite literally – reflects all the medieval buildings around it.
The competition, run by Suffolk County Council and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), invited entries from five leading architectural firms to design the three bridges.
The approaches from Foster & Partners were considered to have the potential to enhance Ipswich’s waterfront, as well as acting as a catalyst for regeneration of the wider harbour area.
The practice’s head of design, Spencer de Grey, has said that he sees the bridges in a wider urban context, creating new promenades and public spaces between the river front, inner harbour and island.
Foster & Partners has already a number of world-famous bridges to its credit, including the Millennium Bridge in London and the towering Millau Bridge in Provence.
Here at Penn Commercial, we’re delighted with the news. We’re totally in agreement with Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, who’s said that the new Upper Orwell crossing is “one of the most important moments in Ipswich for many decades”.
Of course, its functional purpose is to link the east and west banks of the river, thereby relieving vehicle congestion, creating easier throughroutes for pedestrians and help to open up an island site for development as a new technology hub.
But equally, the ambitious plans for the three bridges and the appointment of a world class architectural practice say much about the town and how it sees its future.
And that is an important message for the people of Suffolk. Ipswich has ambition and the drive to take some of its ideas to fruition.
Much has been achieved along the Ipswich waterfront in recent years, but there’s still much to do. The University at the one end, the construction of quality apartments and offices, popular hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes, shops and the thriving marina are all testimony to the leisure, education and business potential of this part of the town.
It’s buzzing with life, thanks to the efforts of local business people and the borough council.
As for the new Upper Orwell crossing… It’s expensive – of course it is.
But the people of Ipswich, many of whom believe that they have been failed by successive councils, have seen their town fall behind its neighbours. They need to know that something is about to change.
Ipswich’s time is coming. Finally, something big is happening. The announcement that a world class architectural practice is to create iconic bridges for our town shouts that loud and clear.

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Vanessa Penn

About Vanessa Penn

Vanessa Penn was formerly Director of Commercial Agency for Countrywide Commercial, Bradford & Bingley and Douglas Duff part of Erinaceous Plc. Vanessa now runs her own agency Penn Commercial located in Ipswich, Suffolk www.penncommercial.co.uk. Penn Commercial boasts a number of local, regional and national clients and has formed an excellent and loyal client base.
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