Four architecture students from Leeds Beckett University have won a major international competition to tackle urban design issues in a US city
Graham Davey, Joseph Earley, Jade Moore and Michele Prendini were awarded top spot in the 2019 Better Philadelphia Challenge.
The team’s entry, Kensington in Recovery: Spine and Seeds, was chosen by a panel of judges including ER Bacon Development founder Elinor Bacon – the daughter of renowned city planner Ed Bacon, in whose honour the contest was launched.
The annual competition awards a first prize of $5,000. Student teams from the University of Texas at Arlington and Illinois Institute of Technology came second and third.
The Leeds entry stated: ‘By sowing the seeds of a circular economy in the heart of Kensington, our proposal acts as a catalyst for the social and economic regeneration of the area. It proposes to bridge the disconnection between residents and Kensington’s vulnerable citizens.’
It added: ‘Key sites are identified along Kensington Avenue and new interventions, or seeds, are built at these locations. These seeds begin to regenerate the social and financial economy of the area and ultimately disperse into the wider area, developing a circular economy.’
Earley said: ‘The social problems in Kensington effectively split the population in half, with healthy and vulnerable citizens living in polarised communities.
‘The opportunity for architecture is then to provide some sort of middle ground for both groups, somewhere for both parts of the community to encounter one another on a regular basis. We chose to bring together a mix of existing social organisations, useful skills and upcycled materials, enabling a home-grown and integrated solution to help bring the split community back together.’
He added: ‘We never lost sight that we were working at a distance from the communities and did our best to engage directly with them. When we go to Philadelphia we are looking forward to meeting the people we engaged with.’
Leeds beckett students kensington in recovery spine and seeds