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Competitions in 2018: There’s a wealth of work, if you know where to look

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Merlin Fulcher looks ahead to a full pipeline of work set to be tendered in the coming year

The past 12 months have been a bumper year for competitions, with UK architects competing in a treasure trove of opportunities for once-in-a-generation new cultural spaces at home and abroad. 

The next year looks set to continue this trend with an impressive pipeline of contracts and tenders on the horizon. One of the most intriguing, expected early next year, will be the search for an architect to design the UK pavilion at the Dubai 2020 Expo

This could quickly be followed by the launch of a contest to rethink the future of Grosvenor Square in London’s West End, while the hunt for a design team to take forward the ambitious Camden High Line project is also expected to start. 

Away from the capital, the Category A-listed Paisley Museum just outside Glasgow has announced it will soon be seeking an architect for a major overhaul, while Great Yarmouth has promised a search for a team to mastermind a £4 million revamp of its historic market place. 

Dudley’s Black Country Living Museum – which selected Napier Clarke for a new visitor centre in July – has hinted at the possibility of further open contests as it moves forward with its £22 million regeneration programme, while the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust in Shropshire may be running similar contests and tenders as part of its own £12 million redevelopment initiative. 

Peabody, which chose Bisset Adams for Thamesmead’s new Southmere Village Library last month, has suggested more contests could follow once a development partner is in place for its next phase in July. The Architecture Foundation is also about to launch a follow-up to its rooftop AntePavilion contest in Hackney, won this year by PUP Architects. 

The London Festival of Architecture ran three competitions this year and a number of other jobs are almost certain to be advertised early next year. Northbank BID, the festival’s client for the Modern Maypole contest (won by ScottWhitbystudio and WhitbyWood), has hinted at a future search for a design team to rework the public realm at Aldwych in central London. 

Overseas, Lithuania’s second city, Kaunas, is eyeing up the possibility of a design contest for Steigiamojo Seimo Square. And the New York-based Van Alen Institute has announced a series of open contests for new flood resiliency measures to be delivered in south Florida. 

Predicting which practices will pick up these projects is a fool’s game – but a look at which firms hoovered up this year’s big contests may give us a clue. They include BDP (Great Ormond Street Hospital, Palace of Westminster and Strathclyde University), Foster + Partners (Upper Orwell Crossings, Andhra Pradesh state capital and Jabal Omar Development Project in Mecca) and Allies and Morrison (Clandon Park, Cambridge Biomedical Campus and Nieuw Zuid tower in Antwerp). 

Also achieving notable wins were David Adjaye (UK Holocaust Memorial and Cardiff University Maths and Computing Centre), Carmody Groarke (Mackintosh’s Hill House and Sheffield’s Park Hill art gallery), Tonkin Liu (Lansdowne Club and Manchester Tower of Light) and Hawkins\Brown (Thames Estuary Museum and London Institute of Medical Sciences). 

Next year’s most hotly anticipated winner announcements will be the new Brussels Pompidou (Caruso St John, 6a and Sergison Bates all shortlisted), Changi Airport new terminal in Singapore (Grimshaw and Heatherwick Studio in contention), and the £10 million Wall of Answered Prayer (pictured: entry by Danish architects Mathias Bank Stigsen, Asbjørn Staunstrup Lund and Thomas Sigsgaard Jensen).

Other contests still to announce winners or shortlists include Making Places Waltham Forest, the Sousse & Bardo Memorial and Calverley Old Hall. The final announcement of teams for the London Mayor’s new ADUP2 panel is also likely to create ripples in the professional ether. 

Hopefully next year’s competitions will avoid the pitfalls of the past 12 months, which saw a number of proposals hit the buffers, including the Birmingham Museum revamp, Sheffield Music Centre, Marlborough College Newtown Building and Manchester University Pankhurst Centre. Likewise we will hope for no repeat of 2017’s most controversial procurement outcomes: the selection of George Kings’ ‘insulting’ Iron Ring landmark for Flint Castle and the mangled Clandon House restoration.

Iron Ring by George King Architects

Iron Ring by George King Architects

Source: George King Architects

Iron Ring by George King Architects

Contact competitions editor Merlin Fulcher with your competition news at Merlin.Fulcher@emap.com

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