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RIBA opens Salford bridge design contest

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The RIBA has launched an international design contest for a new pedestrian bridge in Salford, Manchester

Open to architects and engineers, the high-profile competition seeks proposals for a new crossing over the River Irwell connecting green spaces to nearby housing.

The Salford City Council-backed project is the latest phase of the £660 million Irwell River Park regeneration project which aims to create a new ‘international waterfront destination’ in the city.

Serving the river park’s eight hectare Meadows district, the new bridge could be the fourth new crossing to complete over the Irwell and the Manchester Ship Canal in recent years.

Wilkinson Eyre completed a new swing bridge (pictured) over the Manchester Ship Canal linking Daniel Libeskind’s Imperial War Museum North to the 81 hectare MediaCityUK two years ago.

Digital submissions are being accepted for the contest’s first stage. Three schemes are expected to be shortlisted in the second stage with each receiving a  £4,000 + VAT honorarium. The Judging Panel includes Renato Benedetti of McDowell + Benedetti acting as the RIBA adviser, and the City Mayor of Salford.

Salford City Council agreed to waive contractual standing orders to appoint RIBA competitions to run the bridge contest earlier this year.

According to council papers, the decision to award the £25,000 to £30,000 contract was made on the grounds RIBA was an ‘exclusive provider of such services’.

Justifying the decision, the document said the RIBA would ‘bring rigour, credibility and prestige to the selection process; ensure that the competition is managed to best practice standards with accurate documentation to ensure all decisions can be justified; provide a dedicated architectural adviser to work with the council throughout the process, providing expertise and an independent view.’

It also said the in-house service would ‘add value to the competition by preparing a strong brief with an emphasis on deliverability that attracts design teams with the right set of skills to deliver the project, including a strong engineering input; give the council direct access to the RIBA’s 40,000+ global membership to promote the design competition.  This, coupled with the RIBA’s ‘superbrand’ status enables RIBA to attract the highest quality design responses for clients.’ 

The competition has been announced just days after the RIBA launched a review of its in-house competition’s service in a bid to stamp out exploitation of architects across the industry.

Research published by the AJ last week showed that just less than half of the winners in RIBA-run contests in the past three years have been built or have a firm commitment to go ahead.

The closing date for submissions to the Salford bridge contest is 5 September.






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