The WAN Future Project Urban Design Award 2015 is a celebration of ‘design only’ projects. Seeking to champion concepts that have pushed their specific typology forward and proven a holistic and effective approach.
A panel of international experts recently analysed how well the 30 longlisted projects work within both the client’s requirements and the surrounding environment. The jury also judged entries on a number of factors including quality of presentation, originality, innovation, form and special quality, sustainability and context.
After much discussion, the judges arrived at a conclusion on the six shortlisted projects, which are listed below in no particular order. Jason summarised the selection: “A nice diverse range of scale and intervention – you’ve got small urban changes to the existing, along with an ambitious large masterplan that works well with its historic context, and urban regeneration projects.”
Central Pau re-development in France by Ameller, Dubois & Associés.
The proposal creates a gathering space in and around the market hall of central Pau, which will be rebuilt. In addition to this, a complete restyling and restructuration of the existing civic buildings facing the market will be overseen. Oliver was first to say: “It’s a very smooth project that’s been well presented - architecturally it’s very attractive. It’s a great example of how a regeneration project should be done well.” Bryan went on to say: “You have confidence that it will improve the life of the city.” The architect’s enhancement of the program was to make sure that, by 2018, central Pau would provide its inhabitants and visitors not only with a lively market hall and elegant office buildings, but also with a unique urban balcony overlooking its natural mountain setting. Jason concluded: “It’s a very accomplished piece of architecture.”
Slow Street: A New Town Center for Mayflower in the United States by the University of Arkansas Community Design Center.
The plan was adopted unanimously by Mayflower’s city council, following a year of work between the tornado recovery planning team and the community. Since the thin 4,500-foot long triangular site does not support a traditional block fabric, the design is structured around a novel shared street system that they have designated ‘Slow Street.’ “It’s a great space, the town centre is very attractive” commented Oliver. Slow Street accommodates a range of housing density (6-25 units/acre) in a town where the average density is three units/acre. The housing mix for the 350 units supports aging in place and the return of middle and low-income families to town centres. The street becomes the town’s park system. “I’m particularly taken with the architects beautiful drawings” said Bryan.
Tower Works in the United Kingdom by Jestico + Whiles.
All the judges were taken with this project. The £80m regeneration project will create 23,375m2 of mixed-use, sustainable development comprising commercial offices, housing, retail and leisure uses. The Tower Works site contains several listed Victorian structures, including the three attractive Italianate towers from which the site takes its name. Jason was first to say: “It’s very respectful in terms of new and historic. I like how they’ve created this new quarter.” The masterplan ensures that the new buildings are deferential to the listed buildings and respects key views from surrounding approaches. Half of the site area is given over to public realm, including a new square at the development’s heart, creating pedestrian permeability between Leeds railway station and Holbeck. The project includes the restoration and regeneration of the Engine House, a Grade-II listed building, as the centrepiece of the development. “It’s very sympathetic, it’s a good integration into the context and it opens up for further development” commented Oliver. Bryan concluded that: “We’re admiring of the technical skill involved. Going on to say: “The tower is such an inspirational thing, it means so many things to architects.”
Texarkana Art Park and Perot Theatre Revitalization in the United States by the University of Arkansas Community Design Center + Marlon Blackwell Architects.
The judges were impressed with the presentation of this project, with Bryan commenting: “I just love the drawings.” The urban regeneration for a key downtown block creates an activity node connecting City Hall, the Regional Arts Centre, and the 1400-seat Perot Theatre - all pre-1920s buildings that do not front the park. The design proposal consists of four key components, a farmer’s market, band shell and amphitheatre, art walk, and gateways. The four components extend the social life of adjoining cultural venues. Here, infrastructural space and components - usually thought of as supplemental to the city - are artistically reconsidered in reshaping the city. “It’s a well-considered project, it’s been done sensibly” said Jason.
Golden Horn Shipyard in Turkey by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture.
The firm developed a visionary master plan for this waterfront site in the heart of the city of Istanbul. The client’s goal is to develop a major, mixed-use district within the shipyard grounds, while seeking to also retain and celebrate legacy elements of its historic operations. “It’s got the potential to work” said Jason, with Oliver going on to say: “It’s a master plan done well, it’s sympathetic in scale and the architects are meeting the client’s brief – it keeps that heritage.” The land area of the district totals 31 hectares with 2 kilometres of water frontage. The client intends to develop the shipyard as a series of seven sub districts, with the first sub district targeted to start in summer 2016. Envisioned to attract 50 million people a year, generating visitation with landmark attractions, festivals and events year round. It provides a public waterfront to connect people, land and sea, assuring public access along the entire length of the waterfront. “It makes the connection with the shipyard” said Bryan. Oliver agreed, saying: “It has a genuine public waterfront that’s accessible to everyone.”
President's Park South in the United States by Rogers Partners
The judges were intrigued by this project. Presented with a unique design challenge that requires sensitive integration of security requirements while addressing traffic management and pedestrian circulation, the architects proposed a network of safety features integrated with the landscape to diminish the visibility of operations. Bryan commented: “These are very real issues in today’s world, this scheme deserves public recognition.” The 210,000 square meter site defines the edge of the Ellipse by adding a seating wall with integrated pedestrian lighting, while subtly raising the grade of the Ellipse. This establishes a security feature, reinforces the Ellipse as an event space, and minimises the visual appearance of adjacent parking. “It’s an interesting topic. This scheme is an elegant integration” commented Oliver, with Bryan saying: “It’s resolved poetically, I’m impressed. It’s a clever system.” The design culminates in a new E Street terrace that joins the enhanced space of the Ellipse with the White House South Lawn.
Thank you to all involved in the WAN Future Project Urban Design Award 2015 and congratulations to the six finalists of this category. From this six, an overall winner will be announced on 23rd February 2016.