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A competition to design a new habitable bridge across the River Thames has caught the imagination of European archi...
A competition to design a new habitable bridge across the River Thames has caught the imagination of European architects, environment secretary and minister for London John Gummer said today.

Opening the Royal Academy of Arts Living Bridges Exhibition in London, Mr Gummer said: 'When I first discussed the idea, it seemed a long way from realisation. But our discovery that the exhibition of live-on bridges that was destined for the Pompidou Centre could not be mounted there gave us new impetus.

'Generous sponsorship has been secured from the Corporation of London and the Generale des Eaux Group for the exhibition, from Thames Water for the competition and from KPMG to investigate the financial viability. All this has made possible this Living Bridges exhibition, and I am so pleased that the Royal Academy has been the beneficiary.

'This is the first time that the Royal Academy and the Pompidou Centre have been able to cooperate in this way, and that in itself places this project properly in the European tradition to which it belongs.

Mr Gummer continued: 'The River Thames is a symbol of Londons continuity, vitality and strength. I want to see the river once more in its rightful place at the physical and spiritual heart of London. A new Bridge should do justice to the magnificence of the river. I see it as a bridge for the people of London. A bridge that would link the two halves of our capital. A place where you could talk, meet, work and live.

'Architects from home and abroad have risen to the Royal Academy of Artschallenge to design such a bridge. As a member of the jury panel, I was impressed by the imagination and quality of the designs. I congratulate the joint winners of the competition, Antoine Grumbach & Associes and Zaha Hadid Architects for their exciting and innovative visions for the future. Visitors to the exhibition will also get the opportunity to vote for their favourite design, and the peoples choice will be announced by the Academy on 9 December.

'The Thames is worthy of the best that architects and urban designers can devise. I see this exhibition as a vote of confidence in its future.'

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