By continuing to use the site you agree to our Privacy & Cookies policy

Your browser seems to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser.

Close

Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Close

bradford

DESIGNS ON DEMOCRACY

Winner: Bauman Lyons Architects

Runners-up: Penoyre and Prasad Witherford Watson Mann/Ken Worpole

The judges selected the Bauman Lyons team to begin the process of working with Bradford council and others, including English Heritage, on a programme which takes advantage of the ideas and the spirit of the architect's proposal, while refining and re-addressing specific client requirements.

The Bradford site offers great opportunities and poses great problems: a magnificent Grade I-listed building, much loved by Bradford citizens, but scarcely visited these days; a substantial public space outside the town hall; a police station which is about to move, which must be replaced by something; and a feeling that the city hall represents a huge immovable object. In summary, the building represents not just an unfriendly physical presence, but a barrier to democratic life.

The team acknowledged in its presentation that aspects of its scheme would inevitably be the subject for negotiation, the most obvious being a proposal to remove the council chamber from the town hall, inserting a giant winter garden and covered market, creating both a destination and a route through the building. The judges liked the idea of some of the historic but underused spaces in the town hall being used for museum purposes to tell the story of Bradford, perhaps including the rigged architectural competition for the original building!

The judges were also attracted to the proposed external pavilion that would house the council when it meets in full session (10 times a year).

This would allow a sense of spectacle and tradition to operate, but under the eye of citizenry rather than behind (relatively) closed doors. The chamber would be a permanent structure, while the pavilion would comprise a canopy covering an open, colonnaded space with two axes:

one running towards the chamber and the ceremonial entrance to the town hall, the other providing stage facilities for the many and various celebrations that take place in this city of many cultures. This pavilion would be a temporary structure, with an assumed life of 25 years - a hitech pavilion adorned with new screen and acoustic technology. Another external feature with potential were 'e-pods', intended to allow access to all in relation to council programmes, and perhaps for real-time communication. The judges believed that the pods might be better placed throughout the city, rather than just in the centre. The proposal's aim of creating multiple reasons to come to the city centre was liked, even if an idea for market stalls for Asian traders had implications for other areas which would need study. The proposal also envisages a conference centre to replace the police station.

Overall, the judges found things to admire in all three schemes. In fact, they had many ideas in common, including greater enclosure of the public spaces around the town hall, and the creation of streets and lively public spaces within it.

Penoyre and Prasad proposed a 'new and open'kind of facility and a 'travelling town hall'- a portable suite of equipment to roam the area, making local government truly local. City Hall was to be the 'mothership' occasionally hosting the suite, with the centre of the existing town hall extension's 'V' rethought as a new public forum, and a chamber above on columns, under a glazed roof shaped like a paper dart. The judges admired the permeability of the proposal.

Witherford Watson Mann and Ken Worpole aimed to 'weave City Hall back into the networks of the city'and the everyday lives of citizens by: improving accessibility - with a new entrance from the square and a public route through the middle of the building; filling the ground floor with public uses - including a library, public lounge, food court and space for civic groups; and adding 'definition and focus' to public space. While less architecturally spectacular than the other proposals, the judges thought the architects had shown great imagination in the mix of activities proposed.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

The searchable digital buildings archive with drawings from more than 1,500 projects

AJ newsletters