The Bridge

Following my reference last week to the earlier competition for Burlington Gardens, David Chipperfield’s archivist kindly located what must have been his entry for it – or, at least, his notes for his presentation which are dated 6 February 1998 (I must have got the date of the competition wrong).  

What is interesting is how many of the characteristics of his subsequent architectural design are – as I had half expected and is probably inevitable with an architect dealing with the same set of issues – already evident in the earlier competition entry.   The sketches show his sense of the beaux arts relationship between Burlington House and Burlington Gardens, which he illustrates in a tripartite arrangement – house, courtyard, gardens;  his understanding of the whole site as a single unified campus;  the dilemma of a second front door to Pennethorne’s Burlington Gardens;  his acknowledgement that the issues to be solved were as much organisational as physical;  and the requirement for what he describes as a NEW LINK.  

He asks rhetorically HOW TO LINK THE TWO BUILDINGS;  and answers his own question by illustrating an AXIAL LINK, the only difference to the final solution being that he shows it as a link from the ground floor of Burlington Gardens to the main floor of Burlington House, as opposed to, as has now been built, its basement.  

The reason I’m especially interested in these drawings is that the bridge (oddly given this history) only made its appearance relatively late in the gestation of the current scheme, since the 2008 competition was about Burlington Gardens on its own, and, when a link was originally proposed, the idea was to have a grand reverse staircase in the space now occupied by the McAulay Gallery taking one from the ground floor of Burlington Gardens to the basement and then across the courtyard sans bridge.   

It is now a key feature – if not the key feature – of the design:-

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