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Revealed: Winner and runner-up schemes in the 36 The Calls contest

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The Citu-backed competition to design a riverside building between some historic former warehouses in Leeds challenged entrants to re-shape a car-park site, says Richard Waite

The AJ can present the winning and shortlisted schemes in the competition to design a 21st-century icon for developer Citu by the River Aire in Leeds.

The international contest to design a landmark building on a car-park site, run in association with the AJ, attracted 96 entries.

Through the 36 The Calls competition, Citu set out to raise the bar in terms of architectural quality for both the city and Yorkshire, and create a sustainable addition to the waterfront. Submissions were diverse, ranging from towers, stacked pods and even a public square with a statue of Leeds-born playwright Alan Bennett (See bottom). 

Judged anonymously, the jury included CABE chair Paul Finch, Citu’s Chris Thompson, Leeds’ civic architect John Thorp, interior designer Paul Logan, investor Charles Nickerson, Jonathan Morgan of Morgans City Living, and AJ news editor Richard Waite. Citu hopes to submit the winning scheme for planning by the end of the year.

The brief

1.  Design an iconic riverside building that contributes to the urban and historic environment

2.  Create a truly sustainable and economically viable building

3. Include prime office space with active ground-floor uses, plus four car-parking spaces

WINNER: Fletcher Crane Architects
This delicate rib cage of a building designed by young practice Fletcher Crane Architects was the judges’ unanimous winner. The proposal aims to ‘repair the historic urban fabric’. Dubbed ‘The Loom’, the wraparound external structure creates a column-free office floor inside. A large sloping underside provides cover for the riverside public area beneath.
Judges’ comments ‘A stunning piece of architecture that delivers a practical solution to the intricacies of
the site – in particular maintaining access to the river.’

Fletcher Crane Architects: Ian Crane, Toby Fletcher, Sam Stevens; Elliott Wood; Skelly and Couch; Quantem Consulting 

Aedas’ ‘family’ of prefabricated pods is designed to allow for modification and includes options for more monocoque modules to be added either horizontally or vertically. Derived from the site’s former warehouse storage units, the modular office and leisure scheme improves access to the river and opens up views across
the plot. The scheme features a naturally ventilated atrium and a combined heat and power plant.
Judges’ comments ‘A pioneering and interesting concept offering impressive views over the river.’

Aedas: Andrew Newton, Edward Park; Buro Happold; Turner & Townsend


Cartwright Pickard Architects

Using a simple palette of brick, timber and slate, Cartwright Pickard Architects’ scheme aims to stitch the existing urban grain back together. According to the outfit, the design was derived from the ‘ad hoc nature of the surrounding industrial warehouses’, creating three gabled blocks that break down the building’s massing.
Judges’ comments ‘An extremely attractive waterfront elevation and a very comfortable fit with other buildings in the area.’

Cartwright Pickard Architects: James Arkle, Steve McConnell, Peter Cartwright; Davis Langdon; Giffords



P + HS Architects

A simple glass box wrapped with a yellow skin was proposed by the Leeds office of P + HS Architects. According to the practice, this wrap references the surrounding industrial roofscape, while a stepped jetty connects the mixed-use scheme with the river. The ‘flexible and resilient glass’ creates a visual connection from street level through to the river.
Judges’ comments ‘An eye-catching and ground-breaking design with an extremely innovative “toe-in-the-water” concept.’

P + HS Architects: Phil Bentley, Tom Potter, Chris Lawes, James Park; Gifford; Thomasons; Hoare Lea; V B Johnson



Letts Wheeler Architects

The tallest of the shortlisted schemes is this high-rise office and residential proposal by Nottingham’s Letts Wheeler Architects. The block is cut back, protecting sightlines to the parish church and allowing views to the river for the neighbouring 38 The Calls while creating a new public space by the water. A utilitarian shell of rough masonry hangs off a ‘skin of glass and metal’.
Judges’ comments ‘An attractive building that would stand the test of time in design terms and sit well on the riverside.’

Letts Wheeler Architects: Andrew Wheeler, Matthew Letts, Catherine Ham; Price & Myers; Waterman Building Services


Project O

Portuguese architecture collective Project O submitted proposals for this glossy, white, monolithic block. Punctured only by a series of shuttered windows, a seamless rainscreen cladding of aluminium panels clads
a metal frame. A bar and function room on the ground floor projects over the river as an ‘assumed extension of the public space’.
Judges’ comments ‘A highly sophisticated and well-considered scheme offering flexible office space in
a landmark building.’

Project O: Tania Marques, Eduardo Rebelo, Jorge Ferreira, Luis Virote; MBM Surveyors



COMMENDED: Garnett Netherwood Architects
Garnett Netherwood Architects decided to ignore the brief with this homage to Leeds-born playwright Alan Bennett, feeling it ‘would be a shame to fill the site with a building’. Drawing on the ‘curious resemblance’ of the site to Piazza San Marco, Venice, the practice created a piazza with a monument, a visitor centre and a tunnel link under the Aire. Apparently, Bennett said ‘he would never be able to set foot in Leeds again’ if the plans were realised.
Judges’ comments ‘A fantastic and humorous concept befitting of the city and location.’

Garnett Netherwood: Leighton Williams, Robbie Sampson

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