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Competition: Cambridge-to-Oxford growth corridor, UK

Malcolm Reading Consultants has launched a free-to-enter international contest for ideas to boost sustainable development within the UK’s Cambridge-to-Oxford growth corridor (Deadline: 3 August)

The two-stage competition is open to multidisciplinary teams of urban designers, architects, planners, landscape designers and development economists, and seeks ‘forward thinking and imaginative’ proposals which place sustainable place making centre stage in the area’s future.

The project is backed by the UK government’s National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), and aims to boost the development of new housing, public realm and infrastructure within the 210km-long linear area spanning Cambridge, Milton Keynes (pictured), Northampton and Oxford.

Milton Keynes Image by Thomas Nugent

Milton Keynes Image by Thomas Nugent

NIC chair Andrew Adonis said: ‘The economic potential of the four cities of Oxford, Cambridge, Northampton and Milton Keynes is huge, offering real benefits to the success and prosperity of the country as a whole.

‘But the area needs to adapt and change if it has any chance of achieving this, of attracting the brightest and best and of competing on the world stage. Today, I’m calling on leaders in architecture, economics, policy-making and planning, as well as local residents, to help shape that future, and put forward ideas that will make this growth corridor an attractive place to live and work for generations to come.’

Sadie Morgan, NIC commissioner and dRMM founding director said: ‘From the dreaming spires of Oxford to punts along the River Cam, the growth corridor has so much to offer those looking to live and work there. We need to ensure that continues.

‘This is more than just good design – this is about creating a vibrant and attractive community that will stand the test of time and support the future development and prosperity of a unique part of the country. I look forward to seeing the ideas that are put forward.

Competition organiser Malcolm Reading added: ‘Transport brings prosperity and activity and creates the conditions for growth, which are all welcome outcomes. The competition offers a rare opportunity to imagine new and enlarged communities, to shape their character. This is all about creating inspirational places that encourage social and creative exchange within a high-quality environment.’

Oxford

Oxford

Source: Image by Tejvan Pettinger

Oxford

The growth corridor runs from Cambridge to Milton Keynes, encompassing Daventry and Wellingborough to the north and bounded to the south by Luton, Stevenage and the Aylesbury Vale. It is home to around 3.3 million people and a high concentration of businesses in the scientific research and development, life sciences, pharmaceuticals, high-tech manufacturing, performance technology and motorsport sectors.

The growing area suffers from a major shortage of affordable housing and poor connections between its principal settlements which is thought could place a break on future economic growth if not remedied.

Launched two years ago, the NIC is an independent adviser to the government on infrastructure policy and strategy which relies on cross-party support. Key recommendations so far have included development of the East West Rail project and the planned £3.5 billion Oxford to Cambridge Expressway.

The latest call for ideas aims to identify innovative approaches to help integrate new infrastructure with sustainable place-making across the region.

Participants must first submit an outline concept focusing on either the intensification of an existing urban area or the creation of a new autonomous settlements. Four finalists will each receive £10,000 and be invited to draw up more detailed concepts in response to a specific site.

Judges include Adonis, Morgan, and NIC commissioner Bridget Rosewell, a former chief economic adviser to the Greater London Authority. The finalists will see their proposals feature in a report submitted to government later this year and may also be given a continuing role as the wider project develops.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for applications is 2pm, 3 August.

Contact details

Malcolm Reading Consultants
29 Lincoln’s Inn Fields
London
WC2A 3EG

Tel: + 44 (0)20 7831 2998

Visit the competition website for more information

Shenzhen urban corridor case study: Q&A with Martin Probst

The associate director at Maccreanor Lavington Architects discusses lessons learned revitalising an urban corridor in Shenzhen, China

How will your project transform a 53km² zone bordering a busy highway in Bao’an, Shenzhen?

The complete zone is already built. However developed during the frantic first wave of urbanisation in the 1980s/90s, it isn’t fit for the future in most aspects: economically, socially and environmentally. A new parallel motorway already relieves G107. The government will invest to transform G107 into an urban boulevard. Substantial parts will be sunken into tunnels. A new metro will run along its whole length. The zone is divided into 51 transformation areas. Each combines easier development opportunities with complex challenges, is managed via PPP models and a land bank.

MLA+'s competition-winning scheme to overhaul a 53km² zone bordering a busy highway in Bao’an

MLA+’s competition-winning scheme to overhaul a 53km² zone bordering a busy highway in Bao’an

MLA+’s competition-winning scheme to overhaul a 53km² zone bordering a busy highway in Bao’an

Which architectural, material, planning and other methods did you harness in your design?

The proposal follows four strategies.

Fast lines and slow networks: Efficient fast mobility lines (trains, public transport, roads) are simply a must for development. But good slow movement networks for cycling and walking make the difference.

3D metropolis: To overcome the motorway as barrier burry the fast traffic where possible, connect local open spaces and cluster programmes on both sides of G107.

Landscape inside the city: The structure is based on the regional landscape system, today hidden within the chaotic development. This links the project automatically to its place. Urban spaces have a strong natural and green character - an easy win in sub-tropical climate.

Diverse urban image: Solutions build on existing geography and qualities. Development must strengthen the differences, rather than unify the many urban characters.

MLA+'s competition-winning scheme to overhaul a 53km² zone bordering a busy highway in Bao’an

MLA+’s competition-winning scheme to overhaul a 53km² zone bordering a busy highway in Bao’an

MLA+’s competition-winning scheme to overhaul a 53km² zone bordering a busy highway in Bao’an

What advice would you have to contest participants on rethinking the Cambridge-to-Oxford growth corridor?

Attractive development to live, work and play is the ultimate aim. The competition for investment and talent is global. Hence solutions must make extra steps beyond the norm. Regional scale plans must bring human scale into the process. Without it, we can’t deliver places attractive to people. Attractive urban space is the essences of the European city. Inside the city plan around streets, squares, and parks. Outside the city plan natural and productive landscapes together with leisure activities.

MLA+'s competition-winning scheme to overhaul a 53km² zone bordering a busy highway in Bao’an

MLA+’s competition-winning scheme to overhaul a 53km² zone bordering a busy highway in Bao’an

MLA+’s competition-winning scheme to overhaul a 53km² zone bordering a busy highway in Bao’an

 

 

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