aLL Design and KHBT are among six finalists in a contest to design a public realm intervention on the banks of the Grand Union Canal beneath the Westway
Emerging practices Sisters and Tiger; Merrett Houmøller Architects with artist Jack Wates; make:good; and a collaboration of Compendium + Studio Yu + tomos.design complete the shortlist for the contest organised by The London Festival of Architecture (LFA).
The two-stage competition invites architects, landscape architects, designers and artists to submit ‘engaging and exciting’ concepts to transform the derelict motorway undercroft into a waterfront public space. Judges include AJ technical editor Fran Williams.
The call for concepts – backed by Westminster City Council and the canals and River Trust – aims to deliver an ‘experimental cross-section’ which boosts public interest and engagement with the neglected canal towpath in the Harrow Road area of North Kensington.
The shortlisting of aLL Design comes almost a year after the studio’s founder, Will Alsop, passed away. Compendium + Studio Yu + tomos.design won a seperate contest to rethink public realm in Thornton Heath last month.
The winner of the latest competition, to be announced in April, will receive £30,000 to install its scheme in time for this year’s architecture festival in June.
LFA director Tamsie Thomson said: ‘For many Londoners, their physical boundaries are set by the existence of everyday neglected spaces that seem appear forbidding or unwelcoming. This competition is an excellent demonstration that architecture and design talent is key to demolishing those boundaries – opening them up as places that are useful, enjoyable and safe.
‘I’m delighted that our partnership with Westminster City Council will help to improve the local environment around Harrow Road for residents and canal users, and to demonstrate the transformative impact of good design.’
Hannah Gibbs, Canal & River Trust enterprise manager, said: ‘London’s canals are enjoying a boom; they’ve arguably never been more popular. We’ve seen that where people have improved or created interest in an area it has brought new life, which in turn encourages more people to use the canal and ultimately enjoy and get benefit from being by the water.
‘We’re looking forward to seeing which of the submissions is going to help kick-start a transformation of this stretch of the towpath.’
The Westway is a 5.6km-long elevated dual carriageway, which opened in 1970, connecting Paddington with North Kensington. The busy route borders the Paddington branch of the Grand Union Canal around 200m east of Great Western Road.
The contest focuses on the dramatic but unwelcoming towpath and undercroft where the canal and motorway meet. This is currently a largely underused space featuring graffiti murals and live-in canal boats.
The project aims to revitalise the canalside route while also creating a flagship example for a wider strategy to deliver similar improvement schemes across the area. Participating teams are invited to propose a 10-20m ‘cross-section’.
Submissions could including wayfinding or education resources, community uses, boating facilities, planting or public realm. Up to six shortlisted teams will receive £500 each to draw up design concepts following an expressions-of-interest round.
Judges include Williams, Thomson, Westminster City Council urban design coordinator Ruchi Chakravarty, Canal & River Trust enterprise manager Hannah Gibbs, and the local architect and director of the Maida Hill Neighbourhood CIC Biljana Savic.
Shortlisted: aLL Design
- aLL Design
aLL Design is an internationally renowned design and architecture studio, co-founded by the late Prof. Will Alsop OBE RA and Marcos Rosello. The practice work in all scales, designing anything - from teaspoon to city - with the aim to ‘make life better’. They are creative architects, designers and makers who adopt a playful, colourful, often sculptural approach and in the process reveal the surprisingly functional.
Shortlisted: Merrett Houmøller Architects and Jack Wates
- Merrett Houmøller Architects and Jack Wates
Jack Wates is a London-based artist and design consultant whose work is engaged with light, ‘performative space’ and participatory design. Merrett Houmøller Architects were founded in 2014 and are based in London and Sheffield. They are interested in the process of making and believe that architecture should be for the greater good.
Shortlisted: Compendium + Studio Yu + tomos.design
- Compendium + Studio Yu + tomos.design
The team (Compendium + Studio Yu + tomos.design) are a design and research collective based in Copenhagen and London. Championing the value of space, exploiting ideas behind style and exploring how things are made, they pursue socially useful design as a means of public engagement. Continuously testing what form future architectural practice should take, they explore self-build, self-initiated and collaborative projects.
KHBT is a creative studio based in London and Berlin and set up by Karsten Huneck and Bernd Trümpler. The practice crafts unique spaces that sit between art and architecture, varying from minimal installations to the construction of buildings and urban or spatial strategies, creating work which includes master-plans, public realm projects, residential and commercial developments and public art installations.
make:good is an interdisciplinary architecture and design studio involving people in shaping neighbourhood change. Founded in 2008, the team believe in meaningful processes of local participation, bringing people together to collaborate on the future of an area and its built environment.
Shortlisted: Sisters and Tiger
- Sisters and Tiger
Sisters and Tiger is a brand new collective, collaborating with Powell Tuck Associates. They are designers, architects, planning officers, makers, gallery owners, illustrators, artists and sisters. The team has worked and lived in UK, Ireland, Brazil, Qatar, Germany and Poland, crossing boundaries and connecting cultures.