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Mather wins RIBA's Lancaster University overhaul contest

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Rick Mather Architects (RMA) has won a RIBA-run competition to regenerate the central walkway on Lancaster University’s 360ha Bailrigg campus

The practice defeated Gustafson Porter, White Arkitekter, Land Use Consultants and the university’s original architect Shepheard Epstein Hunter to land the project.

Launched in April, the contest sought a multi-disciplinary team to overhaul the hill-top campus’ main thoroughfare – known as ‘The Spine’.

The judging panel praised RMA’s proposal for ‘focussing on the demands and future needs of a modern University in an approach which considered the campus as a whole.’

According to a statement, the scheme creates a ‘necklace thoroughfare with enlivened building frontages, and a series of characterful connecting spaces with interesting diagonal relationships to better knit the campus together.’

Images of the project – which is part of a £450 million campus-wide regeneration masterplan by John McAslan and Partners – have yet to be revealed.

The Spine was designed to protect students from windy conditions on the exposed hill top five kilometres south of Lancaster city centre.

The enclosed one kilometre circulation route connects key buildings across the prestigious campus which was masterplanned by Peter Shepheard and Gabriel Epstein in 1963.

RMA’s winning team includes Grant Associates,Eckersley O’Callaghan, Mott MacDonald and DHA Lighting.

Shortly after its opening, the competition was criticised by two former members of RIBA’s disbanded procurement reform group for breaching the institute’s own guidelines.

Complaints focussed on a £50 entrance fee and the requirement for practices to have at least £5 million of professional indemnity insurance.

The group’s former chair, RCKa director Russell Curtis said that, despite the criticism, the competition brief was not improved.

He said: ‘I thought that the PQQ requirements were too onerous and the conditions for shortlisting unfairly excluded smaller firms. These were not changed, and the shortlist did nothing to allay my concerns.’

He added: ‘It wasn’t really a competition at all.’







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