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Contest opens for Lancaster University overhaul

Lancaster University has opened a RIBA-run design contest to refurbish the central walkway on its 360ha Bailrigg campus

An architect is sought to overhaul the hill-top campus’ main thoroughfare – known as ‘The Spine’. The project is part of a £450 million regeneration masterplan by John McAslan and Partners.

The enclosed one kilometre circulation route connects key buildings across the prestigious campus which was masterplanned by Peter Shepheard and Gabriel Epstein in 1963.

The Spine was designed to protect students from windy conditions on the barren hill top five kilometres south of Lancaster city centre.

Recalling an early site survey Peter Shepheard said: ‘We went up there on a windy day, and it was freezing cold. Every time we opened a plan it blew away. And we said Christ! What are we going to do with these students, where are they going to sit in the sun and all that?’

He continued: ‘Well, we decided, it’s got to be cloisters. All of the buildings have got to touch at the ground. We then devised this system and it had an absolutely firm principle: it had a great spine down the middle where everybody walked. That led everywhere. The cars were on the outside, on both sides.’

The Spine refurbishment contract is expected to start in November and complete by October 2016. The university’s director of facilities Mark Swindlehurst said: ‘We are looking for an innovative team capable of rejuvenating The Spine and re-presenting it as a space that knits together an array of different buildings, external landscapes and addresses various building frontages and entrances.’

He continued: ‘We want to create an inspirational space where people learn, work and live as well as go about their daily business. The University fosters a sense of community cohesion and The Spine should facilitate this.’

Five teams will be shortlisted and paid an honorarium to develop design concepts in response to the university’s outline brief.

Recently completed projects on the campus include a £7.6 million IT centre by Wilson Mason and a new management school by FaulknerBrowns.

The deadline for submissions is 2pm on 12 May.


For more information visit the competition website











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