Bridge Design Competition Launched for New Islington, Manchester

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      Archiseek Editors

      The ambitious search is on for a team of architects and engineers to design and deliver a new footbridge over the Rochdale Canal which will link New Islington, Manchester’s Millennium Community, with its neighbour Ancoats Urban Village.

      The open competition, organised by the RIBA with the support of the ICE (Institution of Civil Engineers), together with the partners for New Islington, Urban Splash, English Partnerships and New East Manchester, is an exciting challenge. The judges are looking for a solution which addresses the very practical constraints at the site, such as different levels, clearances and access points, but at the same time creates an object of beauty, in the spirit of the architectural aspirations set out in Will Alsop’s framework for New Islington.

      “We’ve heard the debates on whether architects or engineers should design bridges,” said Nick Johnson, deputy chief executive, Urban Splash. “And we’ve also seen how sometimes the reality doesn’t live up to the sleek models and drawings! We want this bridge to be something special, something which will work. We’re looking for consortia capable of producing the full picture – aesthetics and engineering. We just want a fantastic bridge.”

      The judges for the competition include: Tom Bloxham & Nick Johnson, Urban Splash; Clive Wilding & David Chilton, English Partnerships; Lyn Fenton, New East Manchester; Chris Wise, Expedition Engineering; Julian DeMetz, DMFK; Martin Stockley, MSA; and Andrew Grant, Grant Associates.

      “New Islington is about ambition, it’s about setting your standards high then beating them some,” said Nick. “We’ve already seen the results of other competitions for the project win awards and international recognition. The bridge which results from this competition will do so too”.

      Open competitions have attracted some of the most exciting design teams from across the UK and the world to New Islington. The bridge competition is the sixth competition so far since the project was announced in 2000 and is the first of three open competitions planned for the project this year.

      Urban Splash was appointed lead developer through competition as was Will Alsop’s strategic framework plan for the 29 acre site; FAT’s Islington Square houses, DeMetz Forbes Knight’s homes, which are due for completion this spring; Grant Associates’ vibrant landscape and public realm; and Taylor Woodrow and shedkm’s Botanic scheme, which is due to start on site this year.

      New Islington, Manchester’s Millennium Community, is one of national regeneration agency English Partnerships’ seven Millennium Communities. New Islington is a partnership between English Partnerships, Urban Splash and New East Manchester Ltd together with appointed social landlord, Manchester Methodist Housing Group. The 29 acre site, just east of Manchester city centre, is being radically transformed to a strategic and ambitious vision created by Will Alsop. A new canal and water park, over 1,700 new homes, office space, a school, a health clinic, shops, bars and restaurants are planned to be created, using the world’s best architecture.

      How to register:

      The competition will be open and held in two stages. Stage one seeks basic ideas, a quick sketch, presented on a single A1 boards. A shortlist of five will be selected and the authors invited to work up their ideas and attend an interview.

      The competition brief will be available from 19th January and can be downloaded from the following website : Anyone wishing to submit an entry must register with the RIBA Competitions Office to receive an official ‘declaration form’. Only entries accompanied by a declaration form will be considered. To register and receive the form send a cheque for £25 (inc VAT), payable to ‘RIBA Competitions Office’ (note : no credit card facilities).

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