The Golden Bough

White Table Architects
with Sara Shafiei

“Behold the Liquid Thames frozen o’re,

That lately Ships of mighty Burden bore

The Watermen for want of Rowing Boats

Make use of Booths to get their Pence & Groats

Here you may see beef roasted on the spit

And for your money you may taste a bit

There you may print your name, tho cannot write

Cause num’d with cold: tis done with great delight

And lay it by that ages yet to come

May see what things upon the ice were done”

Frieze by Richard Kindersley

(based on handbills, printed for the Thames Frost Fairs)


The Golden Bough

In a modern echo of The Great Frost Fair of the once-frozen Thames, London Bridge is re-conceived as a horizon of ice. Eerie, mysterious and spectacular, it will float above the main structure of the existing bridge and appear out of a man-made “fog”. A string of pods span between the unfrozen water of the Thames and the frozen water of the ice-horizon, jewel-like, brilliant and luminescent. They connect viewing platforms and routes dotted across the bridge. From the platforms, you may view the city through pier-style binoculars and on the ice-horizon skate all year round. The bridge a fantastical place to be – you can walk through hazy ice-fountains, catch balloon rides or even see a mechanical menagerie of elephants and giraffes. It revives a pleasure that brightened many a harsh winter for Londoners over centuries.


“When the great fen or moor which watereth the walls of the city … is frozen, many young men play upon the ice … Some tie bones to their feet, … and shoving themselves by little picked staff, do slide as swiftly as a bird do flyeth.”

By William Fitzstephens, 1190

The bridge would become London’s pleasure, arts and food centre, with an array of festivals, music events, poetry readings, theatrical performances and art exhibitions taking place inside and outside of the bridge’s cocoon-like pods.