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Thu March 21 2019

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Schoolboy commended in RIBA bridge design contest

1 Mar When the Royal Institute of British Architects holds an international design competition, it normally expects entries from the likes of Norman Foster or Ove Arup, not a 10-year-old schoolboy from Tamworth.

William Tonks with his parents and Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy
William Tonks with his parents and Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy

RIBA and Network Rail issued a challenge last year for designers to come up with a fully accessible footbridge that could be used across Britain’s rail network.

There were 120 entries from 19 countries. The winner was Gottlieb Paludan Architects, whose design has now been added to Network Rail’s new catalogue of improved station footbridge designs.

A surprising entrant, however, was 10-year-old William Tonks from Tamworth, whose designe impressed the judging panel with its imagination and innovation.

On Wednesday evening (27th February) William and his parents were invited to the winners’ exhibition at the RIBA in London, where his concept was showcased to around 100 guests, including Network Rail chair Sir Peter Hendy.

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William Tonks, Stuart’s father, said: “I’m really proud of William’s entry. Obviously we knew he was unlikely to win, but we wanted to encourage him to follow his passion for bridges and engineering. The feedback we’ve had from the judges has been really helpful and has only strengthened William’s desire to pursue a career in engineering in future.”

Network Rail chair Sir Peter Hendy said: “It’s wonderful to see somebody as young as William with the enthusiasm and ability to successfully enter the footbridge competition, and we are all delighted to see his design showcased at the exhibition. We hope he goes on to become a railway engineer – we need him and many others in the future.”

William Tonks' entry
William Tonks' entry

Gottlieb Paludan's winning entry
Gottlieb Paludan's winning entry

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