The South Bank Centre has shortlisted the cream of world talent for its redevelopment masterplan - minus a few big names that had been expected to be in the competition line-up.
The 13 are Alsop & Stormer, David Chipperfield Architects, Zaha Hadid, the Dutch practices Mecanoo and oma (Rem Koolhaas), Rick Mather Architects, Jeremy Dixon. Edward Jones, Michael Hopkins and Partners, mbm Arquitectes from Barcelona, Patel Taylor, MacCormac Jamieson Pritchard, Terry Farrell & Partners and edaw.
All the shortlisted practices, chosen from 76 entries, were involved in a masterplan of the site around 10 years ago. However, two other practices heavily involved in the South Bank saga, Richard Rogers Partnership and Allies and Morrison, were not included. Rogers, whose glass wave was abandoned last year, decided against entering the competition, partly because of workload. Allies and Morrison, currently working on Royal Festival Hall interiors, declined to comment.
A South Bank Centre spokesperson said: 'We are not asking the practices to design a building. It is their conceptual, logistical, political, practical and spatial ideas we want. It is the quality of thinking for the site we are interested in.' Interviews are at the end of March and the final appointment is due in October.
One of the judges, Ricky Burdett, director of the cities programme at the lse, said that the masterplanner would have to look at wider urban issues and not at individual buildings: 'The work of many of the architects over the last 10 years, such as Zaha Hadid, has a shown a profound analysis of urban form.'
Burdett was happy for the winner to be excluded from designing individual buildings. 'There are many schemes, such as the Barcelona Olympic Village, where this has worked well. It is important to have somebody focusing on the spaces between buildings. We are at a point where we need to reinvent our ability to do urban designs and not just put down a load of bollards.'
James Allen, md for Alsop & Stormer, thought it was sad the eventual winner would not be able to design a building. But he added that it would avoid potential conflicts of interest and the possibility of masterplanners angling the work towards themselves. 'It is fair of them to tell us early on, but it may have affected some people's decision on whether to enter,' he said.
Gerry Judah has been commissioned by Sustrans to design this sculptural footbridge (above and below) to go over a floodwall on the Thames riverwalk in Woolwich, London. The £75,000, 15m-span bridge is currently being fabricated. When in place, in around three months' time, it will offer users views of the Millennium Dome, Thames Barrier and the nearby Tate & Lyle factory.