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Competition: Empowering Platforms, Westminster

Riverfront lfa competition bench
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The London Festival of Architecture has launched a contest to design a pair of £20,000 platform installations featuring seating along the Westminster riverbank

The Empowering Platforms competition seeks ‘fresh and engaging’ proposals for new demountable platform installations featuring seating, wayfinding and potentially planting which could occupy different locations between Victoria Embankment Gardens and Chelsea Bridge this summer before being potentially permanently installed.

The competition is supported by Westminster City Council and Northbank Business Improvement District and is open to architects, landscape architects, designers and artists. 

It aims to boost visual connections between the borough and the river, encourage more people to use the riverfront and promote sustainable travel patterns. Two winners will each be given £20,000 – including a £2,000 design fee – to manufacture and install their installations in time for the festival opening in June.

Westminster City Council cabinet member for business and planning Matthew Green said: ‘Enjoying a walk along the River Thames is one of the great pleasures of London life. As part of our objective of creating a “City for All”, Westminster wants to enhance the riverfront experience for everyone.’

LFA director Tamsie Thomson said: ‘As we explore the theme of “power” during the festival this June, this competition is a fantastic opportunity for architects, landscape architects, designers and artists to demonstrate the power of design at any scale. I’m excited to see how entrants approach the physical constraints and opportunities of these riverside sites, in offering a tangible solution to the limitations we see in our everyday lives.’

The Westminster waterfront stretches from Chelsea Bridge to just beyond Waterloo Bridge but is far less used than the popular Southbank.

The competition focuses on the 5km stretch which is currently stymied by busy roads, poor public realm, and unsympathetic residential development which blocks the river path.

Concepts should provide an alternative to existing seating arrangements along the route (pictured) which are typically on raised brick platforms and provide views of the London skyline. Proposals must be ‘safe, durable and offer a low-cost’ while providing visuals interest to passers-by and enhancing inclusivity and accessibility.

The winning proposals will be installed in up to three separate locations within the Northbank-Whitehall and Millbank-Pimlico areas over a three-month period starting in June. The riverfront next to the Palace of Westminster and at Victoria Tower Gardens – the focus of Adjaye Associates and Ron Arad’s proposed Holocaust Memorial – is not included within the project scope.

Up to six shortlisted teams will each receive a £500 honorarium to further develop their concepts between March and April. Judges will include Thomson, Thames Festival Trust director Adrian Evans; Northbank BID operations director Katherine Fleming; Ramiro Levy, place shaping officer at Westminster City Council.

The deadline for applications is 23 March.

How to apply

Visit the competition website for more information

Contact details

Email: rosa@londonfestivalofarchitecture.org

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