Between the Garden Bridge and a Kickstarter proposal for floating pools, the River Thames has become ground zero for speculative urban development projects in London, partially due to the crowded city's skyrocketing real estate prices and burgeoning riverfront development. With Frost Flowers—a plan to sink floating retractable jetties into the that would isolate water to create frozen skating pond—global architecture and design firm NBBJ is adding a seasonal public project to the infrastructure frenzy.
The unfolding metal structures, which look like giant iced-over lily pads when deployed and unfolded, would bring back river skating to the city. Until the 1830s, the original London Bridge would limit the river's flow and create an iced-over section of the Thames, which was celebrated by Londoners with an annual Frost Fair. While the idea is nothing more than speculative at this point, a similar system could accomplish the same thing on any large river in a colder climate.