MBM Arquitectes, a major force in Gold-Medallist Barcelona, has won a competition to turn one of Europe's biggest derelict sites into another showpiece, this time for modern living in Newham.
The 1500ha scheme will involve smashing down a huge flyover which presently tears the heart out of the riverfront site, opposite the Millennium Dome, stretching from Stratford to the Thameside area.
The Barcelona-based firm, responsible for the Spanish Olympic Village, will create 100 public spaces, including a big lake to form a 'wet square' hemmed in by commercial and social spaces and a transport interchange. A new canal will connect Canning Town and Lower Lea. The 18,000 homes, four-fifths of which will be one- or two-bedroom houses, will be arranged in a cluster of hamlets surrounding urban parks. The designers aim to restore wetlands at Hackney and Walthamstow Marshes.
mbm Arquitectes beat Arup Associates, Pringle Richards Sharratt Architects and Patel Taylor Architects. Judges included writer Deyan Sudjic, Richard MacCormac and the lse's Ricky Burdett. Burdett said: 'Few people have worked on such a scale and seen it realised. Their London idea was simple: a framework of streets, public spaces and building plots rather than a grand architectural statement. Such a large-scale approach is so relevant to London and gives the right messages for the new mayor. If you left the land to the market it would be flogged and carved up for low-rise industrial uses.'
Another judge, Newham chief executive Wendy Thomson, said: 'mbm's design is worth a million words. It acknowledges the site's industrial history by building on the theme of reclaiming the past. We are committed to making progress on it.' The council awarded mbm £40,000 and will cost the project for government, European and private funding.
Rival proposals included a high- and low-rise scheme echoing Amsterdam's layout from Patel Taylor. Pringle Richards Sharratt Architects created a civic hub with dramatic space-age road tunnel. Arup Associates centred on new parkland, low-rise homes and offices on the principles of the Georgian square.
The Architecture Foundation has picked six architects to work on sites in Newham as part of its Roadshow: Birds Portchmouth Russum, for the Little Illford site; Shillam & Smith Architects, for the Orchard Road Site in Barking Road; MacCreanor Lavington with Fluid, for the Brooks Road site in West Ham; fat, for 'The Alice' site at Forest Gate; and Ushida Findlay for Gerry Raffles Square and Salway Road in Stratford.