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'Radical' housing sought in East End contest

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The Architecture Foundation has teamed up with London-based housing association Circle 33 to launch a new competition aimed at unearthing 'radical' new ideas in housing design and then getting the winning architect to build the results.

The pair, which kicked off the two-stage competition today (Thursday), wants to stimulate the housing sector and promote innovative design to better reflect a diverse range of housing types, matching them with the 'heterogeneous range of lifestyles lived in the post-modern and multicultural age'. Circle 33 also wants to lift quality and improve the flexibility and circumstances of the housing it provides. Participants will be encouraged to go beyond the accessibility provisions of Part M of the building regulations.

The competition is two stage, and the organisers say that the winning design is 'intended' to be built on the chosen 2,848m 2site in Old Ford, Bow, east London (pictured). The first, anonymous, stage is open to UK and foreign architects with a deadline for registration of 18 May. There is a further deadline of 15 June for submission of schemes. The judges, including Ian Ritchie, will then select a minimum of six entries to go forward as finalists to stage two. The invited firms will receive an honorarium of £6,000 to produce detailed design proposals by 21 September. A winner will be announced on 4 October and an exhibition of designs will take place next January. The brief says that design teams will retain the copyright of their design proposals 'at both stages of the competition' but the competition organisers are free to use and reproduce the designs to promote the competition.

Circle 33 board member Jane Blom Cooper said the competition, called 'Accommodating Change', aims to attract innovation toward 'quality homes suitable to the challenges of the twenty-first century'. Ideas for entrants to think about include the fact that single occupancy households are projected to rise to 36 per cent of all households by 2016, 30 per cent of the population is aged over 50, the numbers of people working from home is expected to rise to 34 per cent by 2006, and inflated housing markets, especially in London, are causing major housing problems.

Blom Cooper added that later this year a further ideas competition, exhibition and publication for housing, again sponsored by Circle 33, will be launched for European students based around an adjoining site in Bow.

The brief is available for £25 from Eve Chung at the foundation (tel 020 7253 3334). But it can also be downloaded - for free - from the AJ's website, at www.ajplus.co.uk

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