The Ebbsfleet Development Corporation has launched an international contest for ideas to boost healthy living in the UK’s largest new residential settlement
Open to multidisciplinary teams including landscape professionals, the two-stage competition seeks proposals to transform the 800ha garden city into an ‘active, engaging, and uplifting’ place which encourages healthier lifestyles among residents, visitors and the local workforce.
The call for ideas is managed by the Landscape Institute and supported by the NHS, which has designated Ebbsfleet one of 10 areas where it will be trialling its ‘Healthy New Towns Initiative’, intended to rethink how health and care services are delivered. Up to 15,000 new homes and 30,000 jobs are planned for the Ebbsfleet Garden City site in north Kent.
Landscape Institute chief executive Dan Cook said: ‘We have the opportunity to take a truly modern and multidisciplinary approach at Ebbsfleet, which could end up becoming a model for the creation of healthy new cities across the world.’
Ebbsfleet Development Corporation chair Michael Cassidy added: ‘Ebbsfleet Garden City’s landscape, with its white chalk cliffs, open green spaces and lakes provides us with a unique opportunity to provide a landscape that challenges the norm. Healthy living is also a great motivation, and people taking part will be challenged to be as creative as they can to use the Garden City’s existing landscape to its full potential.’
Ebbsfleet Garden City is a planned new settlement on the site of a former quarry next to the M2 motorway and Ebbsfleet international rail station.
The Ebbsfleet Development Corporation was created by the government three years ago to speed up the delivery of a new large-scale residential district featuring commercial, educational, research and leisure uses. It is set to include seven parks and 192ha of blue and green infrastructure.
Competition proposals could affect the development of national planning policy. Submissions should consider how to harness Ebbsfleet’s entire landscape and outdoor spaces to deliver a new healthy city.
Five shortlisted teams will then each receive £3,000 and be invited to draw up more advanced concepts in response to a detailed brief for a specific site. The overall winner will be announced in September and will receive £5,000.
A separate student competition will focus on high-level concepts for the entire settlement with £3,500 shared between the top three entries.
The deadline for applications is 18 April.
How to apply
Visit the competition website for more information
107 Grays Inn Rd
Kevin McGeough, director Ebbsfleet Garden City
Kevin McGeough, director Ebbsfleet Garden City
Why are your holding a contest to transform Ebbsfleet into a new healthy city?
The UK has a proud tradition of great place-making through the design and delivery of planned new communities. From Edinburgh New Town to Milton Keynes; Saltaire to Letchworth, we have led the world in rethinking how people can live and work together in attractive and healthy environments. These new places were often conceived as a reaction against inner city over-crowding and poor health conditions and were so successful that four locations are recognised by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.
Ebbsfleet is the first new Garden City for 100 years and the first new town designated in the UK for 50 years, and as such we want to be ambitious. We, Ebbsfleet Development Corporation in association with NHS England and the Landscape Institute, believe this Landscape Design Challenge is a great opportunity to bring fresh thinking, imagination and innovation to this amazing location, where London meets Kent, where Europe meets England. This is nationally significant project, and as such, we need to lead the way in thinking creatively about designing spaces.
What is your vision for the new healthy garden city settlement?
This competition is being promoted by NHS England, because they recognise that radical thinking and good design up-front can help improve health outcomes in the long-term. We have developed a two-stage competition in order to be both radical, yet realisable. In phase 1, there are no constraints, the whole Garden City area and our adjacent existing communities of Northfleet and Swanscombe are the canvas. We want architects, landscape architects, engineers and artists to collaborate together to consider how we use this challenging post-industrial landscape of cliffs, clefts, chalk spines, rivers, and lakes, in a creative and engaging way to encourage healthier and happier lifestyles. In phase 2, we want shortlisted participants to apply this creative thinking to an actual project in the Garden City to demonstrate how this ambition could be realised.
What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?
This will be a great opportunity for a variety of practitioners to showcase their work. We are keen to have submissions from a range of teams as long as each team includes a landscape practitioner. We are promoting this competition in order to give small and emerging practices an opportunity to get involved in the Garden City, and to encourage collaboration between individuals and practices. As the largest of the ten healthy new town pilot sites and the first in a new generation of Garden Cities, there will be significant interest in the output from the competition from government, developers, and the media. We plan to have a number of exhibitions of entries and winners in London, Ebbsfleet and elsewhere, offering opportunities for the winners and short-listed entries to promote their ideas. These include NHS70 in Manchester and the Landscape Institute Annual conference in London.
Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?
Over the next 20 years; 15,000 homes, and capacity for up to 30,000 new jobs will be created, served by the infrastructure required to make a successful and sustainable city including 7 new city parks. This programme will identify numerous opportunities for architects, landscape architects and other built environment professionals to get involved. This competition is designed to showcase what could be achieved.
Are there any other healthy residential masterplan projects you have been impressed by?
Moving from Glasgow to New Lanark, or from Bradford to Saltaire doubled individuals’ life expectancy through good design. New Swedish neighbourhoods such as Hammarby Sjostad, Stockholm and Western Harbour in Malmo set a clear ambition for a healthy and sustainable development. The Highline in New York City has transformed the image of the city through creative use of landscape and heritage. On a smaller scale, the Hanham Hall development near Bristol by Barratt Homes, working with HTA Architects demonstrates how landscape and architecture can work together to create a healthy community.