International Open Ideas Competition Cooling Towers Site Sheffield

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      Archiseek Editors

      The RIBA Competitions Office is pleased to announce the launch of a new International Open Ideas Competition on behalf of Groundwork Sheffield. Architects, landscape architects, engineers, town planners and urban designers (or teams thereof) are invited to submit imaginative, inspirational ideas for the future use of a brownfield site situated adjacent to the M1 Tinsley Viaduct in Sheffield.

      The competition site occupies a key gateway location, lying just off the M1 motorway opposite the Meadowhall Shopping Centre (which attracts some 13 million shoppers per year). The area has been the focus of significant public interest over the past year, due to the selection of the two disused Cooling Towers located on the site for the Channel 4 Big Art programme. The Cooling Towers are a highly emotive issue with the general public. People either loathe the Towers considering them an eyesore, or love them, regarding them as a local landmark that welcomes residents and visitors alike to Sheffield. What would it be like to drive along the M1 without the Towers looming over the viaduct is a frequently asked question? Notwithstanding the Channel 4 programme and local campaigners’ determination to transform the Towers into a public artwork, demolition remains the preferred option of the landowner due to the on-going maintenance liability that they represent. Competitors can choose to either incorporate or exclude the Cooling Towers from their design ideas.

      Despite its industrial setting, the site is significant as the River Don and Tinsley Canal which cross the site are an important recreational resource and wildlife corridor that links to the adjacent Blackburn Meadows Nature Reserve. Groundwork Sheffield is working with a group of partners to progress this long disused site. Helen Batt, River Don Park Coordinator, comments “We are very excited about the potential for the design competition to produce ideas which are imaginative both in terms of the future use of the site, and design. The site combines large-scale industrial structures and surroundings with a wild, natural landscape which we hope to see competitors explore”. The challenging site requires an innovative approach for its redevelopment, which if implemented, would be visible by the thousands of motorists who use the two-tier Tinsley Viaduct every day.

      The competition will take the format of an Open Ideas Competition. The Stage 1 submissions will be subject to a technical appraisal and up to twenty schemes will be selected for anonymous exhibition, with comments invited from the general public and interested parties with specialist or local knowledge. Comments raised through this exercise will be made available to the Jury Panel – to include a Landscape Adviser; Architect Adviser and representatives from E.on UK (the principal landowner); Groundwork Sheffield; English Partnerships; Sheffield City Council and Rotherham Metropolitan District Council – to help inform their selection of up to six finalists. Anonymity will then be lifted, with the finalists invited to present their ideas to the Jury Panel at a final interview.

      Prize money of £4,000, £2,000 and £1,000 will be awarded to the competitors placed First, Second and Third respectively. The remaining finalists will each be paid a contribution of £250 towards expenses incurred in attending the final interview.

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