ARPL Architects has won the Glasgow Institute of Architects’ (GIA) ideas contest to regenerate the Midsteeple Quarter area of Dumfries town centre
The Ayr-based practice received a £1,000 top prize for its proposal which the judging panel said ‘would bring people and business to the area and would breath a new life and vibrancy’ to the area.
Commenting on the win, practice director Gordon Flemming said: ‘We are very pleased that our ideas for the Midsteeple Quarter in Dumfries were recognised by the competition judges.
The challenge of ensuring regional town centres stay viable and lively is a great task and we hope our contribution to the discussion helps add a new dimension to this.’
A £500 second place prize was awarded to a team effort by young architects Andie Cooke, Megan Ward, Cara Brunton and Ashley Mitchell; and a £300 third place prize went to Pioneer Landscape Architecture. Ryan Canning and Titas Grikevicius of Holmes Miller meanwhile won a commendation for their drawings.
Open to architects, landscape architects, urban designers and other related disciplines, the anonymous competition sought ‘innovative yet practical’ proposals to transform a former retail space, known as the Bakers Oven, and its immediate surroundings.
The project, backed by arts organisation The Stove Network, aims to regenerate the Midsteeple Quarter block of Georgian buildings bounded by High Street, Bank Street and Irish Street in the heart of the historic market town.
Dumfries grew into a major market town during the medieval era, but in recent years has seen its high street – like many others throughout the UK –struggle to attract investment.
Last year The Stove Network set up a community-led project to regenerate the town centre, reactivate vacant retail spaces and encourage more residential use within the district. The initiative has so far focused on the Midsteeple stretch of Dumfries High Street, where a disused shop front has been temporarily transformed into a community engagement space known as the Bakers Oven.
The latest project sought ideas to convert the property at 137-139 High Street into a socially sustainable space which could kick start transformation of the wider Midsteeple Quarter. Visions must encompass the entire block, which features many retail properties and several closes.
Sam Patterson of the GIA commented: ‘We are delighted to have worked with The Stove Network on developing such a rich and challenging competition brief and we are thrilled with the range of ideas that were received across the 15 submissions.
‘The quality of the submissions exceeded our expectations and we hope will stimulate the debate in Dumfries about the potential of the Midsteeple Quarter.’
All competition entries will feature in an exhibition in the Stove building at 100 High Street from 9 June until 21 June. During the show the public will be invited to vote for a peoples’ choice winner.
Judges citation: ARPL winning scheme
Winner: ARPL Architects
A good architectural concept embracing affordable retail and craft spaces, learning and community spaces and viable residential accommodation. The scheme gave real consideration to the cross section through the urban block with a variety of typologies addressing each edge condition. The layering of typology allows for the housing in the core of the block that would feasibly attract a range of people, including families, to work, live and play in the town centre while business units activate the existing townscape with the utilisation of the High Street frontage for specialist local retailers.
We thought the scheme promoted an urban archaeology to rediscover and utilise the heritage of the organically grown buildings of the back court of the block and that the lightweight additions create a new landscape and built form along the existing feu lines, but at a density and scale that is appropriate to Dumfries.
We felt confident that the scheme would bring people and business to the area and would breath a new life and vibrancy to the mid steeple quarter.