Last edited 14 Jan 2021

Upper Orwell Crossings Project, Ipswich


In March 2017, following a competition run in partnership with the RIBA, Suffolk County Council announced the selection of Foster + Partners as the architectural team to join the Upper Orwell Crossing Project in Ipswich.

Foster + Partners impressed the competition judging panel with the quality of their overall approach and thinking, as well as the initial design concepts presented for the project’s three crossings. Enhancement of the waterfront and regeneration of the wider harbour area were key criteria for the project.


The Panel, chaired by Sir Michael Hopkins CBE, selected Foster + Partners from a shortlist of five internationally-renowned teams that included: Adamson Associates with William Matthews Associates and Ney & Partners; Knight Architects; Marc Mimram; and Wilkinson Eyre with FHECOR and EADON Consulting.

Cllr Colin Noble, Leader of Suffolk County Council, said: “The announcement of Foster + Partners being selected as the architectural team behind the Upper Orwell Crossings is a great outcome for Ipswich and Suffolk as a whole. The design element of the project is crucial and with Foster + Partners’ input I believe the final design of the crossings, once completed, will be looked at in the same light as their iconic Willis Building in Ipswich’s town centre.”


Ben Gummer, Member of Parliament for Ipswich, said: “This is one of the most important moments for Ipswich for many decades.

“It is difficult to overstate the importance both of what the bridge will do and also what it represents. The fact that we will have what will be a globally recognised bridge of beauty will say something powerful about our town’s ambition and our place not just in our county, or our region, or our country, but in the world.

“We were, as a panel, profoundly impressed by the quality of designs brought forward by all of the competition entrants and I would like to thank them for the time and energy and passion that they put into their work.

“However, we were all agreed that the proposal put forward by Foster + Partners was exceptional. Not only are they sensational designs – simple, elegant, beautiful – but they draw on true understanding of the economic rationale for this bridge: jobs, growth, prosperity, sustainability.”


Spencer de Grey, Joint Head of Design at Foster + Partners, said: “Ipswich holds a special place in our hearts. The Willis Faber Building was a landmark project for the practice, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to the town once more.

“The design of the bridges focuses on enhancing the experience of crossing the Orwell River, increasing interconnectivity and reducing congestion in the town centre.

“The project also offers the opportunity to consider the design of the bridges in a wider urban context, creating new promenades and public spaces between the riverfront, inner harbour and island. We look forward to working with the Suffolk County Council to develop and refine our proposals over the coming months to help realise a new urban vision for Ipswich.”

Images and content courtesy Suffolk County Council.

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