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Alsop in £800m Rotterdam win

Alsop & Stormer looked set to scoop the £800 million masterplanning brief for Rotterdam city centre ahead of Rem Koolhaas' practice oma and Foster & Partners as the aj went to press this week.

The high profile urban design scheme involves the redesign of a 500,000m2 site between Rotterdam's main railway station and one of the city's main squares, the Hofplein. It also deals with a major transport shake-up for what is the world'slargest port.

An official announcement of the winner is due from the central Rotterdam project office early next month, but it emerged last week that the city authority has already picked Alsop & Stormer for the public private partnership project. Other practices in competition for the job included som and Spanish architect Juan Bisquets.

However, Alsop & Stormer declined to comment on its win in advance of April's official announcement and its designs remain under wraps. News of the win comes in the week that the practice lost out to Timpson Manley in a similar - but much smaller scale - town centre masterplanning competition in Walthamstow, east London (see page 7). But the Dutch appointment is a notable victory over Rem Koolhaas' high-profile Rotterdam-based practice, oma.

The brief for the scheme included housing, offices and retail for the site, which will be transformed under the proposals.

Central to the brief was the inclusion of a large car park to serve users of the new high speed tgv train link which will arrive in Rotterdam in 2005. Other transport changes include the linkage of Rotterdam's small underground metro network with overland trains to provide better connections to the city's hinterland.

The selection panel was made up of the parties of the public private partnership, which included the municipality, the ing Bank, Amvest the insurance company and property investor as well as the Netherlands' national railway company.

oma was told in January that its application had been unsuccessful and the competition was finally whittled down to the two uk practices, Alsop & Stormer and Foster and Partners.

oma's project architect, Reiner De Graf, said that the practice was disappointed with the outcome. 'In circumstances like these when there are so many differerent parties involved in making the decision you never know and just have to accept it,' he said.

Construction work is due to start on the scheme in 2003 and will run for ten years until 2013, according to project manager, Leon van Hoof.

Last year Alsop and Stormer made it onto a shortlist of five - but no further - on another project in Holland. The £20 million, 25,000m2 scheme was for a new national Dutch audiovisual archive to be built in Hilversum, the 'media city' of the Netherlands. It is also working in Holland on a housing project in Groningen, a mixed use project in Almere, and a retail scheme in Utrecht

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