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Competition: Macro to Micro

A pair of competitions has been launched seeking radical residential solutions at two different scales (Deadline: 4 June)

Open to students and professions in teams of up to four members, the Macro to Micro challenge seeks revolutionary proposals to rethink contemporary approaches to housing at dwelling and city scale in response to the housing crises in the UK and elsewhere.

The call for ideas, organised by Eleven, is divided into two categories labelled ‘Macro’ and ‘Micro’. The first category focuses on the conceptual design of a new neighbourhood on a greenfield site on the outskirts of Manchester, UK. The second category invites participants to draw up plans for a new ‘quality-led’ sustainable dwelling intended to promote debate over new housing types.

Living homeless in london

Living homeless in london

Source: Image by Prlygur Hnefill

Living homeless in london

According to the brief: ‘Today, we live in a housing crisis. The solution is the expansion of urban areas into previously greenfield sites in schemes that are driven by profit rather than quality of life and design, which see empty land and wildlife not as assets but as usable vacant plots.

‘At the same time, we are told that we should be more respectful of our environments. Sustainability is no longer an optional trend, but rather a vital requirement. Today, the preservation of our increasingly threatened wildlife and natural surroundings are as much a priority to us humans as urban expansion and new housing. So what do we do?’

The UK is currently suffering from a major housing crisis due to a decades-long undersupply of new homes in areas of large population growth. Access to safe and affordable housing meanwhile continues to remain an issue around the world with close to 900 million people living in slums.

The Poundbury urban extension in Dorchester, Dorset

The Poundbury urban extension in Dorchester, Dorset

Source: Image by Marilyn Peddle

The Poundbury urban extension in Dorchester, Dorset

The latest competition, supported by BETA Events, aims to promote debate on future alternative housing solutions which could help combat the growing accommodation crises both at home and abroad. The contest follows promises by the UK government to deliver a new generation of ‘garden towns and villages’ across the country.

The Macro competition invites participants to consider current debates over greenfield and greenbelt development and propose new forms of housing which provide shelter for humans while also maximising ecological activity.

The Micro competition meanwhile focuses on challenging the mediocre standard of new developments by devising new forms of dwellings which respond to recent advances in materials, technology and society.

Judges include Hemingway Design founder Wayne Hemingway; Max Farrell, senior partner at Farrells; Steve Sheen, housing strategy and partnerships manager at Manchester City Council; and Eleven founder Andrea Verenini.

The overall winners of each contest – due to be announced on 12 July at the BETA Housing Event in Manchester, UK – will receive £1,000 each. A runner-up prize worth £400 will also be awarded in each category.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for applications is 4 June

Fee

Standard registration until 21 May: £60 per team
Late Bloomer registration until 4 June: £80 per team

Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)23 92754278
Email: info@eleven-magazine.com

Visit the Macro competition website and Micro competition website for more information

VeloCity case study: Q&A with Petra Marko and Sarah Featherstone

The co-founder of Marko and Placemakers and director of Featherstone Young discuss lessons learned designing a competition-winning proposal for new sustainable between Oxford and Cambridge in England

How would your competition-winning scheme deliver a new sustainable form of residential development?

Sarah: Our scheme looked at reimagining the villages within the corridor, which have strong identities and character but suffer from car domination, an ageing population and unchecked low-density development. We are proposing new development within these villages which is rooted in the sense of place, reduces car use and provides housing typologies of a higher density and a mix of tenures, effectively creating Lifetime villages where a range of people can live, work and socialise together.

Velocity by Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design, Mikhail Riches, Featherstone Young, Marko and Placemakers, Expedition Engineering and Khaa

Velocity by Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design, Mikhail Riches, Featherstone Young, Marko and Placemakers, Expedition Engineering and Khaa

Velocity by Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design, Mikhail Riches, Featherstone Young, Marko and Placemakers, Expedition Engineering and Khaa

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

Sarah: The villages we studied all developed as rural settlements around farms and manors and have a range of building scale, material and use, with large barns hard up against small workers cottages. They have particular spatial forms and groupings which our new housing typologies take their architectural cue from. We will mend and restore the heart of the villages and wrap the new housing in and around it working with the topography and opening views and links to the countryside and the ‘big back garden’.

Petra: We developed a series of characters based on existing residents as well as people we wanted to attract to live here. They communicated some of the key aspects of our project and how it will be delivered over time. The ‘big back garden’ idea, which is the landscape between villages, became a platform for engaging these people into the visioning process, as residents would be directly involved in defining the content of this shared community space.

Velocity by Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design, Mikhail Riches, Featherstone Young, Marko and Placemakers, Expedition Engineering and Khaa

Velocity by Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design, Mikhail Riches, Featherstone Young, Marko and Placemakers, Expedition Engineering and Khaa

Velocity by Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design, Mikhail Riches, Featherstone Young, Marko and Placemakers, Expedition Engineering and Khaa

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing a radical new residential community?

Petra: We know that people in cities, despite their density and urban buzz, often feel alone and isolated. Designing housing with moments for chance encounter in mind may seem a mundane way of enriching our daily lives, but research shows this approach can go a long way in creating cohesive communities with improved mental health and lower crime rates.

Sarah: Creating more shared spaces and bringing back some of the key community spaces that were historically vital to village life is an important part of future rural development. Homes can be smaller if we share some of our spaces, and more space can be created if villages can support everyday life and be less car reliant.

Velocity by Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design, Mikhail Riches, Featherstone Young, Marko and Placemakers, Expedition Engineering and Khaa

Velocity by Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design, Mikhail Riches, Featherstone Young, Marko and Placemakers, Expedition Engineering and Khaa

Velocity by Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design, Mikhail Riches, Featherstone Young, Marko and Placemakers, Expedition Engineering and Khaa

Q&A with Andrea Verenini

The editor in chief and creative director at Eleven discusses his ambitions for the competition

Andrea Verenini

Andrea Verenini

Andrea Verenini

Why are you holding a contest for radical new micro and macro housing strategies?

Today we are witnessing a housing crisis. Our cities have incredibly limited space within them to cater for an ever-growing request. The solution to this is the expansion of urban areas into previously greenfield sites. More often than not, this translates to natural environments being destroyed to make way for mediocre standardised housing developments, or better, dormitories. At the same time, we live in a world where sustainability and the preservation of wildlife need to become a priority to safeguard our environments and, ultimately, our future generations. This creates two vital survival needs hich are in direct opposition with one another. The solution has to come in the form of a radical new way of understanding what future urban expansions and cites could be and we believe a design-led housing-revolution is what is needed. Asking the international architectural community to engage in a new paradigm could pave the way for inspirational new systems of both imaging and developing the future of our man-made environments while protecting and nurturing our natural surroundings as well.

What is your vision for the new homes and settlement?

Our vision is for a new landscape-led neighbourhood with the goal of seeing nature as an asset to work with. Can we begin to see urbanisation and wildlife pockets as two elements which can co-exist successfully in symbiosis rather than in direct competition? We think we have to. Architecture and design innovation will be the key to getting us there, and this is why we believe a competition on this subject is important. The site in which contestants can test their ideas is fantastic, comprising a 1,800ha diverse green-field area just a few miles from Manchester, which boasts woodland, farmland and peatlands spread.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

Like the rest of our competitions, Macro to Micro is open to anyone who wishes to join the challenge: from first-year students or aspiring architects to established practices around the world. We love to see a full range of participants because this way we can aspire to a diverse and inspiring range of ideas and designs to help shift future visions of residential developments.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

For this competition, we are very excited to partner up with BETA Housing Manchester 2018, an event about the future of housing for decision makers, planners, developers and architects scheduled for 12th July in Manchester. A selection of best works from the competitions will be showcased in a dedicated exhibition and the awarded entries will be officially announced on the day to the public. This allows for the competition to move from a conceptual exercise to an event of real impact, as participants will have the valuable opportunity to become a voice of progress in shifting the perceptions of what the future of housing could look like.

Are there any other similar housing and housing development projects you have been impressed by?

I think architecturally there are a lot of great projects out there. The problem is not necessarily the design, but the system. A lot of great innovations and ideas produced in practice are often the first to be scrapped or severely diluted during construction as a lot of housing development is about profit margins rather than pushing boundaries. I think the way to tackle this is to show that design, innovation and landscape have their value in the process. If we can create a system where focusing on design and innovation and wildlife preservation in development can become an asset rather than an expense or liability, then we are on to a winner. Easier said than done, but this is why we are running a competition on this subject – because there is a real need for it now.