Peace Bridge Wins Top Prize
The designers of the Peace Bridge, located in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, have received recognition and accolades from the architecture industry for their creation. They recently won two Civic Trust awards in Cardiff – the Northern Ireland Award, and the National Panel’s Special Award. The bridge also took home top honours in the judge’s choice category at the Northern Ireland Sustainable Planning Awards on March 12th. In total, the Peace Bridge has won 18 awards since its completion.
The programme manager of the urban regeneration company responsible for the project said that “These are terrific accolades and we are thrilled that they have been bestowed upon the Peace Bridge which has transformed our cityscape and brought tremendous benefits to people and businesses in our region”.
Now War Is Declared, and Battle Come Down
The cycle and footbridge runs over the River Foyle, connecting two halves of the city -the unionist east and nationalist west. The Peace Bridge was officially opened in 2011, after 18 months of construction. Funding was provided by the European Union, and around 1000 tonnes of steel was used in the building process. The landmark Peace Bridge is supposed to represent a unified community, emerging after years of infamous Protestant – Catholic violence. The structure cost an estimated £14 million, and is the size of two and a half football fields.
Since most Catholics live on the west bank, with Protestants on the east, the landmark was intended to literally bridge the gap and encourage people to cross over. Despite its violent past, Londonderry has also been the site of reconciliation. It was here, two decades ago, that Nobel peace prize winner John Hume tried to negotiate a ceasefire with the IRA.
London Calling, Yes, I Was There, Too
Surveys have indicated that the installation of the bridge has increased access to employment and retail services for people living on either side of the river. 90% of the adult population of Londonderry have crossed the bridge for exercise purposes, whilst one third have used it to access retail establishments. Furthermore, the Peace Bridge has resulted in a rise in attendance at public events, a positive indicator of improved community relations. “These findings underline how these sizeable public spaces really are helping improve people’s everyday lives and are contributing to a shared future,” according to the director of the design firm.
*lyrics from London Calling by The Clash
- License: Creative Commons image source
Grace Matthews is a London-based lifestyle blogger who thinks it would make quite a sight if safety boots and hard hats came in all different colours.