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Exclusive: Newcomer scoops Cronton Colliery contest

Unknown practice Michael Lee Architects has won the international contest to design a new visitor centre at Cronton Colliery

The north London-based outfit saw off finalists Hawkins\Brown, the UK office of international giant HASSELL and Leeds-based Edward Architecture working with Matthew Riley to win the RIBA-organised competition.

The firm’s proposals for a ‘pioneering new visitor destination’ at the former coal mine in Knowsley were hailed as ‘compelling and thought-provoking’ by the judges.

Around 50 practices from across the globe, including teams from South Korea, Japan and Italy, submitted proposals for the 430,000m² site, which is being transformed by not-for-profit organisation the Land Trust.

Euan Hall, chief executive of the Land Trust, said: ‘Michael displayed a strong empathy with both the site and the trust’s ambitions. The design really excited us and the creative consortia Michael assembled brought a compelling and thought-provoking ideology to the table.

’His ability to truly consider the built and open environments really impressed us and as such he’s a worthy winner of the competition. We look forward to working with Michael and his team on the project.’

The victorious Cronton Colliery scheme by Michael Lee Architects

The victorious Cronton Colliery scheme by Michael Lee Architects

Previous story (AJ 29.02.2012)

Finalists named in Cronton Colliery contest

Hawkins/Brown and the UK office of international giant HASSELL have been named on a four-strong shortlist in the RIBA Competition to design a new visitor centre at Cronton Colliery

The duo are joined by London’s Michael Lee Architects and Leeds-based Edward Architecture with Matthew Riley in the final of the contest which asked entrants to draw up proposals for a ‘pioneering new visitor destination’ at the former coal mine in Knowsley.

Around 50 practices from across the globe, including teams from South Korea, Japan and Italy, submitted proposals for the 430,000m² site which is being transformed by not-for-profit organisation the Land Trust.

The organisers had only originally intended to shortlist three firms but ‘bent [their] own rules’ because there were ‘so many excellent entries’.

Matthew Bradbury, director of operations at the Land Trust, said: ‘We were blown away by the creativity and vision of the proposals. Each one offered a unique take on the brief, demonstrating empathy and understanding of the site based on its past and future contexts, in tune with the vision and values of the Land Trust.’

‘It has been encouraging to see so many of the proposals seriously considering the long-term sustainability of the new visitor destination at every level – from strategic development and modular schemes right down to renewable energy sources and pioneering closed loop systems.’

The Land Trust’s chief executive Euan Hall added: ‘The Cronton Colliery [which closed in 1984] is a fabulous space that has the very real potential to become a magnificent 21st century visitor destination for the North West.

‘The issue of long-term funding for new schemes is often overlooked but we are hoping that, through this process, we can go some way to changing that mind-set while providing a sensationally designed scheme for the local community and visitors to the site.’

A winner will be revealed on Thursday 19 April.

Cronton Colliery Merseyside

Source: RIBA competitions

Cronton Colliery Merseyside

A highly-commended selection of entries, including the four finalists, will be displayed at the Leeds Design and Innovation Centre, 46 The Calls, Leeds, LS2 7EY, from Monday 2 April to Friday 4 May inclusive.

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