Bath-based Mark Wray Architects has won the RIBA’s contest to mastermind the £495,000 overhaul of Prescot Market Place near Liverpool
The practice – working in partnership with Seed Landscaping – was selected ahead of Periscope, Charles Tashima Architecture, Blackstaff Architects from Belfast and OMI Architects of Manchester in the Knowsley Council-backed call for proposals.
While OMI was set up in 1993, the other finalists all began trading within the past eight years.
The anonymous two-stage international competition sought ‘attractive and user-friendly’ proposals to transform a historic 800m2 plaza, which has been at the centre of the Merseyside town’s economic and social life for almost 700 years.
Mark Wray’s appointment comes one year after the studio – which was set up in 2013 – won a separate RIBA competition for a £325,000 visitor centre in Langley Vale Wood, Surrey.
Other projects completed by Wray – who previously worked at Purcell, Wright & Wright and Richard Griffiths Architects – include a refurbishment of the At-Bristol Planetarium and a house extension in Bath.
Wray and Jack Marshall of Seed Landscaping said: ‘We are delighted to have won the RIBA open competition and we are looking forward to creating an exciting new public space in Prescot to serve the community of this historic town.’
Councillor Graham Morgan, Knowsley Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and economic development said: ‘I am delighted that the winning design has been chosen. The competition was really popular and we were thrilled to receive 45 design proposals.
‘The design complements the other amazing developments in the town, including the Shakespeare North Playhouse and the multiplex cinema, so it’s a really exciting time for Prescot and will help make the town an even more attractive place for visitors, residents and businesses.’
The project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is part of the Prescot Townscape Initiative (THI), which aims to revitalise the town ahead of the opening of its £19 million Shakespeare North Playhouse, designed by Helm Architecture and Austin-Smith:Lord.
Prescot’s historic market place is situated within the Prescot Town Centre Conservation Area next to the Grade I-listed Prescot Parish Church, Grade II-listed Prescot War Memorial and the Cables Retail Park and indoor Prescot Shopping Centre. The paved 800m2 plaza includes an abandoned 1960s public toilet block which could be incorporated into the winning scheme.
Participants were asked to integrate the prominent space into the town’s social and economic activities and promote year-round, night and day use by residents. The competition also encouraged schemes that create a landmark element of green infrastructure and respond to the local area’s history and character.
Judges included RIBA architect adviser Euan Macdonald of Hawkins\Brown, Prescot Townscape Initiative officer Owen Barton and local ward councillor David Williams.
- Blackstaff Architects, Belfast
- Charles Tashima Architecture, London
- Mark Wray Architects, Bath with Seed Landscape
- OMI Architects, Manchester
- Periscope, London