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Competition: Humber Quays West and Hull Arena

Hull Arena
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Hull City Council is holding an international design ideas contest for a landmark flood-resilient development in Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire

The Living with Water competition invites architect-led teams to submit ‘unique and distinctive’ anonymous concepts for the neighbouring 1.7ha Humber Quay West and 1.5ha Hull Arena sites which have been earmarked for a large-scale residential-led redevelopment.

The two-phase competition – organised by RIBA – comes 12 years after major summer storms across the UK caused the flooding of around 7,800 houses and 1,300 businesses in the coastal city.

After an anonymous first round, five shortlisted teams will each receive £4,000 to further develop their proposals in the contest’s second round during which anonymity will be lifted.

Hull City Council’s cabinet member for economic investment and regeneration Daren Hale said: ‘This is a fantastic opportunity for local, national and international design teams to develop a brief that complements the extensive work and investment that has taken place so far to make Hull a flood-resilient city.

‘Preparation is critical for our city, and the team working across the Living with Water partnership have brought together a wealth of expertise to the forefront of climate-change discussions that will not only help to shape our plans for future developments but also impact the city’s position in terms of a becoming a resilient economic driver for the region. In order to achieve this, investment in planning and architecture is key, and can make all the difference.’

Hull is located on a flood plain where the River Hull meets the Humber Estuary. It has served as a market town, trading hub, military port, industrial centre, and major international fishing base throughout its history.

Today it has a growing population of around 250,000 people but around 90 per cent of its built-up areas sit below the high-tide line, increasing the risk of significant flooding.

Last summer Purcell won a contest for a £27.4 million project to redevelop some of Hull’s historic nautical attractions, including the city’s Grade II*-listed Maritime Museum.

The latest contest invites participants to draw up flood-resilient concepts for two major regeneration sites located within the city’s former docklands. Initial submissions for the disused quay and 1980s ice rink should include a maximum of two landscape sheets along with a declaration, statement, and promotional image.

The judging panel will be chaired by RIBA adviser Claire Hodder of Hodder Associates and will include Hull City Council urban designer Rob Beardsworth and a representative from the Spencer Group. An overall winner is due to be announced at the end of May.

The deadline for applications to the Living with Water competition is 2pm, 27 March.

How to apply

Visit the competition website for more information

Contact details

RIBA Competitions
No 1 Aire Street

Tel: 0113 203 1490
Email: riba.competitions@riba.org



Robert Beardsworth, Hull City Council urban designer

Robert Beardsworth

Robert Beardsworth

Robert Beardsworth

Why are you holding an international ideas contest for a flood-resilient development?

A design contest now is a natural progression in terms of the design journey we are on. Hull has a strong commitment to achieving a step change in the design quality of new developments and has recently ramped up the emphasis on design within the city’s development plan and in the way the city council is engaging with the market and promoting Hull as a destination. Over the past year, the city has invested in bringing design skills in-house and we’ve utilised design review to really good effect. We feel a design contest would shine a light on this commitment and help us reach out to an even wider network of talented designers.

In terms of why an ideas contest? Hull has learned that collaboration works really well for us. The city has an impressive track record of delivering high-quality places through public/private collaborations – the fruit market is testament to this, where Humber Street was awarded Great Street 2018 by the Academy of Urbanism.

Our approach to flood risk is no different. Locally we have the Living With Water partnership with the Environment Agency and Yorkshire Water, and Hull is one of five global cities along with Amman, Cape Town, Mexico City, and Miami as part of The Rockefeller Foundation’s City Water Resilience Framework working together to better prepare for and respond to shocks and stresses to our water systems. Inviting people to join us and share in ideas, skill and enthusiasm works well for us and this approach seems to be encapsulated within a design ideas contest. An ideas contest appeals to us over the procurement route at this stage for a similar reason that we feel it represents the least restrictive in terms of attracting a range of architects and will facilitate a more open creative process from which to identify the best design response to the site and the city.

What is your vision for the future of the Humber Quay West and Hull Arena sites?

The contest site is adjacent to the fruit market so as well as having massive potential of its own, there is also an opportunity to create a residential community that feeds off the excitement and character nearby. Design innovation and quality is the defining priority for the site in terms of embracing the waterfront location and close proximity to Hull Marina and the old town, as well as overcoming the potential constraints of flood risk and port side activity. The site area is 3.2ha and sustainability is central to its development hence the focus upon water resilience within the design competition.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

Our ambition is to be as open as possible and we’re looking forward to receiving proposals from registered architects in the UK and abroad, we’re hoping to appeal to smaller emerging practices and well-established practices. I hope the contest will be viewed as an excellent opportunity for architects regardless of what stage they’re at in their careers. Hull is a city undergoing significant development with over £3 billion of investment committed to the city over the last five years, it’s a city that has exceeded its housing requirements in the last four years. It is a place people and businesses want to be and this competition provides an opportunity for an architect to help shape the next stage of the city’s development. The contest is structured so that each shortlisted entrant who submits a phase two entry will each receive an honorarium and it is our intention that the winner will have the opportunity to work on the actual project delivery.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

Hull is gaining the national and international recognition it deserves. This is now a critical time in the development of the city with unprecedented levels of public and private investment in housing growth, the city centre, university, ports and employment locations. Among the city’s greatest assets is its remarkably balanced portfolio of development sites and areas. In all, the city’s pipeline of allocated housing sites totals 11,700 new homes and the city centre has several strategically important development sites vital for increasing levels of employment and securing new homes. It is anticipated 2,500 dwellings will be delivered in the city centre and new retail, leisure and employment opportunities are in for planning currently.

Are there any other flood-resilient residential projects using you have been impressed by?

As you can tell by our partner cities in the City Water Resilience Framework, we’re open to different approaches, and the main message I would give to anyone considering entering the contest is that we’re prepared to live with water. Hull is a city defined by water and we’re embracing this in how we want to plan and design our built environments. In the UK we can learn from looking at other countries and how development often embraces sustainable water management as positive, above ground, visible features. We admire projects that take this approach whether this is new development, or where areas have retrofitted flood-resilience, such as Grange Town in Cardiff.

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