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General view of the uncompleted floating gardens looking towards Edgware Road.

In September last year plans were announced for London’s first Floating Gardens to be based on the canal in Paddington right by where the basin meets Edgware Road.

During Jan/Feb this year the plans were announced the floating gardens would definitely be built.
All good so far. The gardens are meant to be open for May 2017. Except there seem to be some problems….

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View of the canal basin, with incomplete floating park, looking west. Trees are planned for these boxed sections. See how lopsided the boxes are!

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The poster advertising the finished product. Everything is square and level!

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Barely any section of the floating park’s level. The boxes for the trees are very heavy.

The construction of the floating platforms being built to house the gardens beg some questioning. There seems to be some misunderstanding how things float…. Instead of long sections of pontoons (think of it a bit like articulated trains, eg Eurostar, which give a smoother ride as opposed to the usual train carriages that have pairs of bogies and give a more bumpy ride on the tracks) they have opted for short sections placed upon numerous little floating pods tethered together. They could have used a number of huge tanks linked up by long sections of steel tie bars and pretty much the whole lot would have stayed quite level.

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Quite a few sections of pontoon are not level and dont give much confidence in terms of stability.

The simple reason that works is because the weight is spread more evenly – unlike the current arrangement where the weight mass of something is concentrated in the immediate area about itself forcing the other objects to displace themselves in various ways. Its a bit like curved space 🙂

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Steel sections too small to manage uneven weights spread across several pontoons.

What they have done seems all wrong. They may be able to sort the problems to an extent by using steel tiebars and clamps along each of the pontoons to force them level with each other and help equalise the great stresses being borne by uneven distributions of weight.

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Nothing’s level. Even the main access pontoon looks somewhat dodgy.

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Instead they are just clamping the framed sections together, and so far its all wonky, with some sections high out of the water and others quite low in the water.

This section’s level – cos everything’s uniform & nothing’s been put on it! That’s exactly how this type of pontoon works. Putting a garden on it is a different matter altogether!

When the pontoons were first delivered they were very level throughout. That is because there were no heavy masses distorting nor compromising the way the pontoons work together, as the tweet below shows.

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Note: Northern Pontoon deleted their tweet – however a screencap of this was taken and that image is used here.

Compare the pictures I have taken with the official pictures which show pontoons absolutely level as a ruler. I don’t know how they plan to achieve these completely level platforms with the current methods they are using. The steel frames for the pontoons are just too small, and wont work well at distributing a huge uneven mass evenly over a wide area.

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The steel tiebars can’t cope with the great variation in weight. Sections don’t match.

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Even those sections that are clamped still cannot help distribute weight & are not level.

They way they are doing it, it seems to me its going to be somewhat like the original Millennium bridge, which wobbled and swayed so much because engineers didn’t understand the bridge’s dynamics. If any of you have walked along the many pontoons that are now used as towpath diversions on London’s canals, these wobble quite alarmingly – no doubt you’ll know where I am coming from.