An open international contest has been announced for a temporary £15,000 community structure in Birkenhead, Wirral (Deadline: 30 April)
The Finsa Award contest – organised by building materials manufacturer Finsa UK – invites students and graduates from the past five years to draw up proposals for an eco-friendly and easy-to-assemble meeting place for the local community to host events.
Submissions will be expected to harness timber and other recycled materials to reduce the pavilion’s impact on the environment. The completed space will promote discussions between designers and the public and facilitate a series of artist collaborations and cultural events planned for 2019.
Source: Image by El Pollock
According to the brief: ‘Conceived as an informal, pop-up space, the purpose of the pavilion is to engage and offer dialogue and collaboration between groups of people who do not normally have the opportunity to meet with or collaborate with practical artists.
‘Coinciding with the Imagine Wirral year of Culture 2019, the pavilion will host between two and three weeks of programming run by artists from the local community, designed for children, teenagers and adults. Beyond offering a space to host workshops, talks and events, the aim of the project is to bring the local community together through architecture and design.’
Woodside is one of three working ferry terminals in Birkenhead. Located on the opposite side of the Mersey from Liverpool, the town of Birkenhead on the Wirral peninsula is a historically important centre of engineering innovation but has struggled with post-industrial decline over the past decades.
Source: Image by El Pollock
The area has been earmarked for a £4.3 billion residential and commercial-led regeneration lasting more than three decades. The first phase of the enormous Parkinson-masterplanned scheme – dubbed Wirral Waters – won planning permission in October.
The headquarters of the project backer – Finsa UK – is based locally and this is the third year the Spanish company has run an international design contest for buildings which harness timber in their design and construction.
The contest jury includes Paula Basnett of the Wirral Chamber of Commerce, alma-nac director Casper Rodgers and John Hyatt from Liverpool John Moores University.
The overall winner, to be announced on 15 May, will be invited to supervise the construction of their pavilion in time for the Imagine Wirral festival. CNC manufacturing tools and FINSA materials at reduced cost will be provided during construction.
How to apply
The registration deadline is 28 February and submissions must be completed by 30 April
Q&A with Rafael Willisch
The managing director of Finsa UK discusses his ambitions for the contest
Why are your holding an international contest for a new timber pavilion in Woodside, Birkenhead?
The International Finsa Award for Architects and Designers aims to encourage and challenge students to explore and redesign the use of wood and other ecological and recyclable materials in construction. We believe that the future in construction should continue developing this way and know it is possible to achieve.
As Finsa’s UK office is based on the Wirral, one of our objectives is to engage with the Liverpool City Region. The project is part of the Borough of Culture, which takes place in the Wirral during 2019. The Borough is building on the success of its 2018 programme with another extraordinary line-up of events and creative projects as it becomes Borough of Culture for Liverpool City Region, awarded by the combined authority.
The stage is set to showcase Wirral, its local talent and creative output, placing the borough on an international platform like never before and attracting thousands to the region in the process. Even though the winning project will be built in the Woodside, we still think it is relevant to take into account international talent, which will add value and diversity to the proposal.
What is your vision for the new pavilion?
Woodside Pavilion is a temporary structure designed to house practical art activities for the local community. Conceived as an informal, pop-up space, the purpose of the pavilion is to engage and offer dialogue and collaboration between groups of people who do not normally have the opportunity to meet with or collaborate with practical artists. Beyond offering a space to host workshops, talks and events, the aim of the project is to bring the local community together through architecture and design.
For building this, the Council is letting us a space of approximately 500m². The only limitation is to use solely or predominantly Finsa materials (a small budget has been set aside for exceptional additional materials).
The design must be efficient, using sustainable and/or recyclable materials. Even though the main purpose is to house and be a focus for leading arts initiatives and activities to engage and collaborate with community groups active in the area – portfolios will be judged on originality, demonstration of creativity and relevance to the project.
The Smile by Alison Brooks Architects
Source: Image by Paul Riddle
What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?
The competition is open to students or graduates being no more than five years post graduate of architecture and/or design, as part of a team of two members or alone.
Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?
Regarding the near future, our aim is to continue with the competition in the following years, but the topic hasn’t been decided yet. Finsa has always been interested in this type of initiatives and we try to support as many projects as possible, providing materials and sponsoring other pavilions and temporary installations such as Portobello Pavilion by the Museum of Architecture (part of London Design Festival), and the Peckham Toymaker by Taro Tsuruta (part of London Festival of Architecture).
Are there any other recent timber pavilion projects you have been impressed by?
Similar structures that have impressed us are ‘Sclera’ by David Adjaye, ‘The Smile’ by Alison Brooks, or ‘Timber Pavilion’ by Atelier Vecteur, among others.