A SPAN IN THE WORKS

LONDONERS RECONSIDER AN IDEA THEY ABANDONED 250 YEARS AGO: A BRIDGE TO LIVE AND SHOP ON

Of all the landmarks by which cities identify themselves, bridges are the most evocative. Prague has its Charles Bridge, Florence its Ponte Vecchio, San Francisco its Golden Gate. Bridges signify entry in a dramatic way that tunnels and ring roads simply cannot. So, as a way of projecting ideas for London's future, the Royal Academy asked seven European architects to design a new bridge for the Thames. Specifications: it should be inhabitable, which has set the city talking.

The nursery rhyme about London Bridge falling down didn't put the architects off elaborate schemes, and no ink was wasted on nostalgia. It...

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