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Moxon only Brit among latest Europan finalists

Moxon Architects is the only UK practice to have been recognised in the huge Europan 12 design competition which covers 51 sites in 16 European countries

The firm received a special mention for his Hamang Riparian Woods entry (pictured); a response for calls to develop a 25ha site in Sandvika in the Baerum region of Norway to the west of Oslo.

Just under 1,800 entries were received for 51 large-scale sites across Europe with architects free to enter designs for any site in any country. There were 106 prize-winning teams, with victors coming from 19 different countries (see full list of winners here).

While the housing competition, which is aimed at emerging architectural talent, has been embraced by mainland Europe, the lack of UK names suggests young architects in this country have lost interest in the contest.

Europan’s reputation in the UK has been blighted by the country’s terrible past track record of realising victorious schemes.

Rotterdam-based BIQ Architects’ 2006 Fazakerley affordable housing scheme in Liverpool is thought to be the UK’s only Europan-winning project to ever reach fruition.

CABE supported the UK’s last Europan foray in 2008, promising the winning schemes, unlike in previous years, would be delivered.

The commission helped select three winners – a scheme for a hillside plot in Sheffield by North London-based practice Prewett Bizley Architects; a project in Milton Keynes by Tom Russell Architects; and proposals for a riverside site in Stoke-on-Trent by RCKa.

Yet all three of the innovative residential schemes fell by the wayside and the commission was unable to find any sites or project backers for the subsequent Europan 10 and withdrew its support.

The move marked the end of the UK’s involvement in Europan.

Moxon director Ben Addy believes the current apathy to Europan from UK architects and, more importantly potential clients, is down to a mistaken perception of risk: ‘Think of all the headline schemes that have gone wrong in the last 10 years. Have young practices ever been involved? Emphatically not.

‘The risk argument [for clients] is totally inaccurate and unfounded,’ said Addy.

Despite not winning the Norwegian competition, Addy urged UK practices to enter future Europan competitions and asked UK clients to learn from its ethos of openness and collaboration. He said: ‘We were called in for a workshop in Oslo where we met the other winning and shortlisted practices along with the client and we were invited to offer ideas to the project.

‘It was like an AJ Charrette; a very refreshing and engaging process that would never happen here.’

Previous story (AJ 15.03.13)

UK misses out on Europan 2013

The UK is to miss out on Europan after developers and councils once again failed to put forward a single site for the world’s largest housing design competition.

Covering more than 20 countries in Europe, the biennial open-anonymous contest provides design teams under 40 years old an opportunity to design large-scale urban housing projects.

Despite massive success on the Continent over the past two decades, the innovative contest aimed at emerging architects has repeatedly failed to shake up housebuilding in this country.

Rotterdam-based BIQ Architects’ 2006 Fazakerley affordable housing scheme in Liverpool is thought to be the UK’s only Europan-winning project to reach fruition.

CABE supported the UK’s last Europan foray in 2008, promising the winning schemes, unlike in previous years, would be delivered.

The commission helped select three winners – a scheme for a hillside plot in Sheffield by North London-based practice Prewett Bizley Architects; a project in Milton Keynes by Tom Russell Architects; and proposals for a riverside site in Stoke-on-Trent by RCKa (pictured).

All three of the innovative residential schemes have yet to be built and the commission was unable to find any sites or project backers for the subsequent Europan 10 ‘session’ in 2010. As a result it withdrew its support for Europan marking the end of the UK’s involvement.

RCKa director Tim Riley said the lack of UK sites this year showed ‘an increasing lack of faith in architects to deliver innovative housing design in the UK.’

Riley blamed current procurement methods for prohibiting creativity and stifling emerging design talent. He said: ‘Design competitions provide an opportunity for innovation, but are erroneously seen as being risky by procuring bodies, whereas the opposite is true – as is evident in the large number which go on to receive design awards.’

Witherford Watson Mann won three Europan projects but the furthest to progress was a Brent housing scheme which achieved outline consent before the recession hit and has since stalled.

‘I don’t know why Europan doesn’t work in Britain so well,’ said Stephen Witherford of the studio. ‘It is still the only competition I am aware of that focuses on challenging urban themes [but] whether it does or doesn’t get built is an issue.’

A spokesperson for the contest said: ‘Europan 12 will be launched on Monday 18 March. The new web site for Europan 12 will be open this same day. And unfortunately there are still no English sites for [the next] session.’

 

 

 

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