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Opinion - Urban Splash

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Urban Splash wants young architects, and believes competition is the best way to get them, says Jonathan Falkingham.

Urban Splash holds design competitions as a matter of course. This is a method many other developers are scared of. Competitions can be costly and time-consuming; they are challenging and risky. Others might prefer to work to a formula to make the process less risky, but we believe strongly in competitions because we want good architecture – and competitions are a great way of getting it.

Our first open competition was held in 1999 to find an architect for our first newbuild scheme, Timber Wharf in Manchester. The competition was chaired by Richard Rogers and attracted 162 entries. It was won by Glenn Howells Architects, a practice shortlisted for the Stirling Prize in 2006. Urban Splash has since held 10 further open competitions, to find architects for schemes at New Islington, Manchester; Morecambe; Walsall; Runcorn; Springfield Lane, Salford; and Birnbeck Island, Westonsuper- Mare. In the next few months we’ll be launching competitions for Walsall and Northshore at Stockton-on-Tees.

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