New bridge at Kew to bring fresh view of gardens

London architect John Pawson designs elegant crossing for botanical gardens' lake

A lake crossing at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is set to bring a contemporary element to the World Heritage Site when it is unveiled to the public in spring. London-based architect John Pawson has designed the elegant Sackler Crossing to span Kew’s west-end lake. It is designed to open up new vistas and give visitors a fresh understanding of the earlier geometry of the site, while creating a new landmark for the gardens. The bridge plots a curving path across the water around an island of Taxodium (swamp cypress). The deck is formed of bands of African black granite laid like railway sleepers at a minimum distance from the lake’s surface. Cast bronze vertical cantilevers set between granite treads form balustrades. Depending on the angle of view, the spaces between the bronze fins will appear and disappear, blending subtly with the water and the contours of the surrounding land. Building firm Balfour Beatty will undertake the construction, which has been timed to coincide with the draining and dredging works being carried out on the lake this winter — a routine maintenance task carried out every 30 years.

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