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Winner of National Grid/RIBA gasholders ideas contest revealed

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Emerging practice Outpost has won the National Grid/RIBA competition to find new uses for the voids left by gasholders 

Waterloo-based newcomer Outpost Architecture & Design has seen off five other up-and-coming talents to win an international competition to re-imagine the circular voids left by decommissioned gasholders.

The practice, which was set up in 2016 by architects and friends-since-school Robin Sjoholm and Thomas Housden, was chosen ahead of Kensal-based collective 318 Studios, Maidstone and Reigate-based CF.Architects, and a collaboration between architects Jan Verhagen and Priscille Rodriguez, of SRP and Chapman Taylor respectively.

The finalists also included Kennington-based MAX Architects and Wilson Owens Owens Architects (WOO) from Farringdon.

Run by the RIBA in partnership with the National Grid, the contest attracted more than 100 entries. The brief called for architects to devise alternative uses for the sub-surface spaces left by the growing number of gasholders that are scheduled to be dismantled by National Grid Property across the UK over the next few years.

Outpost’s solution for a sustainable, mixed-use development combining affordable housing and flexible workshops arranged around a large, sunken, communal courtyard, was unanimously selected as the winner by the judging panel. According to the practice, the winning design was inspired by the round Tulou villages of the Hakka community of Fujian province in China.

WINNER: Outpost Architecture and Design Studio – mixed-use development. Disected view

WINNER: Outpost Architecture and Design Studio – mixed-use development. Disected view

WINNER: Outpost Architecture and Design Studio – mixed-use development. Disected view

Russ Davenport of FaulknerBrowns and RIBA adviser to the contest said: ‘Outpost presented a beautifully simple vision. Their cost-effective, sustainable design proposal provides an appropriate response to a shortage of affordable housing and workshop spaces across the country.

‘The decision to build out from the base structures, effectively lining the inside wall with a timber framed, modular construction, is inventive yet pragmatic, the serrated roofline presenting a unique but familiar domestic appearance to the surrounding.’

He added: ‘Key to their success was close attention to the brief and a solution which could easily provide a sustainable future for the country’s stock of gasholder bases.’

WOO was handed a highly commended award for its sports and leisure-related submission.

All six shortlisted teams were given a £3,000 honorarium, with Outpost picking up the £4,000 first prize and WOO collecting an extra £1,000 for its commendation.

  • Outpost Architecture and Design Studio – Mixed use development
  • Wilson Owens Owens Architects (WOO) – Sports venue
  • 318 Studio – Crematorium
  • CF.Architects – Parking and charging for driverless cars
  • Jan Verhagen and Priscille Rodriguez – Battery Storage
  • Max Architects - Housing

Who are Outpost?

The south London-based studio was founded in 2016 by Robin Sjoholm and Thomas Housden. 

According, to the practice its design approach ’is hands-on; testing ideas, materials and their assembly through physical models, prototypes and full-scale mock ups’.

Since setting up the practice has become a team of  five, with a ’growing portfolio of private commissions within the residential and commercial sectors’.

Sjoholm studied architecture at the Architectural Association and has more than 12 years of experience in practice, including four years at Project Orange, where re worked as project architect on a series of large scale residential and commercial projects. , i

Housden studied architecture at The Bartlett, UCL and was awarded a RIBA Bronze Medal Commendation. He was senior architect at Ab Rogers Design, where he served as project architect on a number of residential, commercial and retail developments, including the refurbishment of Selfridges Birmingham.

Before that he worked on a range of housing, commercial and education projects at Baynes & Mitchell Architects, Sarah Featherstone Architects and Will Alsop. 

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