Building bridges in minds of young

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The Independent Online
An exhibition of designs for a habitable bridge across the River Thames has seized the imagination of schoolchildren, thousands of whom are visiting the "Living Bridges" exhibition at the Royal Academy in London.

The children are also taking part in voting for their favourite designs. A public vote of visitors to the exhibition for their favourite bridge has attracted 20,000 votes. Seven thousand schoolchildren will have seen the exhibition by the time it end in December. The results of the vote will be announced in a few weeks time.

The exhibition includes plans and models for inhabited bridgesabroad, and seven proposals for a new bridge across the Thames. The models are built on flowing water.

Two designs for a new bridge across the Thames have been named as joint winners in a competition whose judging panel is chaired by the Secretary of State for the Environment, John Gummer. They are: Antoine Grumbach and Associates for "The Garden Bridge", an arcade of shops and cafe spaces placed between two towers on the north bank of the river and a glass palace on the south; and Zaha M. Hadid, whose design cantilevers accommodation from the banks, while allowing views from the central section.

Of the two, it was the idea of having garden space with cafes and shops which won most approval from the school parties. Hannah Little, aged 12, from Edward Peake Middle School in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, said: "The one with the garden is great. Normally bridges don't have trees or gardens." Eleven-year-old Gemma Robinson added: "I like the idea of houses on a bridge. I would love to live on a bridge."

Another garden design, though it did not win the competition, proved even more popular with the children. This had a lawn 30m wide and 277m long.

RA spokeswoman Michelle O'Malleysaid bridges were on the National Curriculum in primary schools.

Living Bridges, supported by the Corporation of London and the Generale Des Eaux Group in association with The Independent, runs at The Royal Academy until 18 December.