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Emerging studios shortlisted in National Grid gasholders contest

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The RIBA has named six small practices as finalists in its international competition to re-imagine the huge circular voids left by decommissioned gasholders

Teams vying for the top prize include Kensal-based 318 Studio; Maidstone and Reigate-based CF.Architects, and a collaboration between architects Jan Verhagen and Priscille Rodriguez.

Kennington-based Max Architects, Waterloo’s Outpost Architecture and Design Studio, and Wilson Owens Owens Architects from Farringdon complete the shortlist, which was selected from more than 100 entries.

The contest, run in partnership with the National Grid, invited architects to devise alternative uses for the sub-surface voids left by demolished gasholders.

The organisers believe the only other option of backfilling such voids could be labour and resource-intensive, as well as detrimental to the environment.

National Grid Property, which manages the National Grid’s surplus land, held the competition in view of the number of its gasholders scheduled to be dismantled in the next few years.

According to the brief: ‘There are many gasholder sites where there is potential to leave the holder base empty and install a base, a simple internal structure, and a roof.

‘This “product” has potential to be more valuable than the land with a backfilled holder and a conventional building. The success of this approach relies on there being a viable market for such products.’

Concepts drawn up by the shortlisted teams include a crematorium, battery store, sports venue, parking and charging for driverless cars, a mixed use development and housing.

The six teams will now each receive a £3,000 stipend to further refine their proposals. The overall winner will be awarded a further £4,000 and there may be an additional payment of £1,000 for a highly commended scheme.

National Grid operations programme manager Matthew Pearce said: ‘We were delighted with the quality and range of ideas, and choosing a shortlist was extremely challenging. We would like to thank all those who submitted for their time and effort, and congratulate those who made the shortlist.’

The contest’s RIBA architect adviser, Russ Davenport of FaulknerBrowns, said: ‘There has been a great response to the competition brief, with a fantastic variety of ideas at a very high standard. It is a great privilege to be involved in a competition which provides an opportunity for practices to showcase such inventive solutions for these challenging sites.’

The shortlist

  • 318 Studio – Crematorium
  • CF.Architects – Parking and charging for driverless cars
  • Jan Verhagen and Priscille Rodriguez – Battery Storage
  • Max Architects - Housing
  • Outpost Architecture and Design Studio – Mixed use development
  • Wilson Owens Owens Architects (WOO) – Sports venue
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