RHS Garden Harlow Carr has drawn up plans and secured planning permission for a new development in the garden. The Thaliana Bridge will span over the the Queen Mother Lake at the south end of the gardens creating improved access for visitors, new routes and new views to and from the bridge across the water. The project has been made possible thanks to a key donor, the estate of Dr Rachel Leech.

Dr Leech’s research relating to the plant Arabadopsis Thaliana is a conceptual driver for the bridge design. Arabadopsis Thaliana has a small genome of approximately 135 megabase pairs and it was the first plant to have its genomes fully sequenced, enabling it to become a model organism for other research programmes.

The Bridge is designed by Gagarin Studio and DP Squared Engineers and their conceptual design speaks directly to Dr Leech’s plant science research. The project follows the success of the Footbridge for Leeds Climate Innovation District which Gagarin Studio and DP Squared designed and which won the inaugural National Infrastructure Commission’s Design Excellence Award in 2020.

Gagarin Studio and DP Squared Engineers, working with The Landscape Agency, submitted the planning application. New lakeside gardens are proposed by The Landscape Agency and an existing bank of trees will be strengthened to provide a more effective buffer to the adjacent road noise. Work on the bridge is expected to start in autumn 2021.

Liz Thwaite, Head of Site at RHS Harlow Carr says:

“The new bridge is part of our overall masterplan for the RHS Harlow Carr site, and will improve the flow of people and the overall visitor experience. We’re so grateful that Dr Leech’s estate are supporting the project and we’re delighted to be working with Gagarin Studio and DP Squared to design and name the bridge in celebration of this pioneering plant science research.”

Gagarin Studio Director, Steve Gittner says “The paired curving forms of the bridge not only reflect the site-specific routes and orientation but also refers to the chromosomes of Arabadopsis Thaliana. The rear curved element forms a back screen, deliberately neutral and simple in appearance whilst the front balustrade facing the lake and gardens beyond is a sculptural element formed in a sequence of weathered steel fins and faces which vary in density and represent the sequenced RDA of the Arabadopsis Thaliana chromosome”.

The bridge is 21 metres long and 3 metres wide and will be fabricated in weathering steel and pre-weathered larch. Work is scheduled to start on site in autumn 2021.

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