The ippr think tank, in association with the AJ, has picked a strong shortlist of nine in its quest to design the 'town hall of the future'.
The nine firms, chosen from a high-profile batch of 82 practices that expressed interest in the CABE and Design Council-backed project, are:
Penoyre & Prasad
Witherford Watson Mann Architects
Each team wins an honorarium of £5,000 and the chance to scoop a further £5,000, which will go to the winners of each of the three sites on offer. The two-stage competition is to 'reinvent' Letchworth, Stockport and Bradford town halls, with the final projects including facilities such as office space, cafes, gallery space and even flats.
The top three shortlisted teams (above) will concentrate on Letchworth, the middle trio on Stockport and final three on Bradford. But the core of the competition is to create a new democratic space which is individual to the site and the character of the area and to foster democratic engagement and civic pride.
A public exhibition of the nine shortlisted schemes - three for each site - will be staged in the new year and the winners will be announced in January 2003.
Chair of judges Robin Nicholson said: 'We were delighted by the response and the wide range of the approaches.' But he cautioned: 'While the general standard of submissions was high and the teams talented, not all architects appear to have understood the central challenge of enhancing local democracy. We have every expectation of three profound proposals for each of the three sites.'
Last week, more than 50 third-year architecture students from Manchester University School of Architecture visited Stockport for a design project to design a town hall of the future.
The students are developing their schemes based on the ippr/AJ competition guidelines, and the best of their designs will go on show at Stockport town hall later this year. See news in pictures, page 10.