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Urban Splash launches trio of competitions with Manchester bridge contest

Urban Splash has revealed the first of three major competitions planned for 2007 by launching a contest for a new bridge in its New Islington development in Manchester.

The leading developer wants engineers and architects to draw up proposals for a structure straddling the Rochdale Canal (pictured) that links the huge development to its neighbour, the Ancoats Urban Village.

This is the first of a trio of competitions Urban Splash is holding this year, one of which is expected to be so high-profile it could even be televised.

The Rochdale Canal brief will demand 'a solution which addresses the practical constraints at the site, such as different levels, clearances and access points but at the same time creates an object of beauty'.

Nick Johnson, deputy chief executive of Urban Splash, said: 'We've heard the debates on whether architects or engineers should design bridges, and we've also seen how sometimes the reality doesn't live up to the sleek models and drawings.

'We want this bridge to be something special, something which will work. We're looking for consortia capable of producing the full picture - aesthetics and engineering - we just want a fantastic bridge.

'New Islington is about ambition, it's about setting your standards high then beating them some,' Johnson added. 'We've already seen the results of other competitions for the project win awards and international recognition, the bridge we get from this competition will do so too.'

The competition is organised by the RIBA, with the support of the Institute of Civil Engineers. For more information, visit

by Ed Dorrell

Photograph by Len Grant

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