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Longlist revealed in contest to transform former ICI headquarters

Heath Park, Runcorn
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The RIBA has named the eight second-stage teams in the contest to transform a 24ha business park in Runcorn into a ‘sustainable, multi-use and carbon-free’ environment

Teams selected for the next round include Atelier Cole, based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Pixel of New York and Hong Kong; and emerging outfit Harper Perry of Newcastle, which won the RIBA’s ideas competition for a flood-resilient development in Hull last year.

Collaborations between Tom Cookson and Sarah Carroll of Hall McKnight, and Kimia Benam of Kimia Benam Architects and Paul Treacy of Corstorphine + Wright complete the longlist, along with bids by emerging London studios Parallel Collective, Periscope Landscape & Architecture and EcoResponsive Environments.

The ‘Vision of Future Living’ competition seeks innovative proposals to regenerate the enormous Heath Business and Technical Park, which was constructed as a headquarters for Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) in the 1960s and is now home to around 120 companies.

The call for concepts was open to architects and students and is backed by landowner Site Operations Group (SOG). It is divided into two phases. The first invites broad conceptual visions for how future workplaces, living spaces and external spaces could promote happiness and reduce poverty and loneliness.

The second phase will seek specific proposals for the site with some office buildings enhanced and others demolished to make way for new uses.

SOG managing director John Lewis said: ‘We have had exceptional entries from around the world and our very experienced judges were immensely impressed at the high standard and quality of the many submissions we received.

‘After a truly fascinating first round of judging, filled with lots of very detailed and interesting discussion, we have been able to narrow our longlist to eight candidates, who will now all go forward to be interviewed in the next phase of the process.

‘From what we have seen so far, I think it’s going to be quite a challenge to select the three submissions for the final shortlist. This is a very exciting period for our Heath Park project and I would like to thank all those who have taken part in our RIBA competition.’

Heath Park 2050 Vision from Simon Lewis on Vimeo.

Runcorn is an industrial town about 20km south-east of Liverpool. The area was designated a new town in the 1960s and underwent massive investment, including the construction of the James Stirling-designed Southgate Estate, which was demolished in the 1990s. ICI was a major local employer prior to the company’s sale and restructuring 11 years ago.

The ‘Vision of Future Living’ contest aims to identify an ambitious regeneration approach for the former ICI headquarters, which is now employs about 2,000 people working for 120 businesses. Phase one submissions were required to include two A3 display boards outlining ideas for futuristic living and working.

A longlist of 12 teams will be invited to present their schemes to the jury, and three shortlisted teams will then each receive £5,000 to proceed to the site-specific second round of the contest.

Judges will include Lewis; Paul Monaghan, director at AHMM and Liverpool Design Champion; Rachel Cooper, professor of design management and policy at Lancaster University; Terry Rogan of Cheshire-based Terry Rogan Architect; and Hugh Broughton of Hugh Broughton Architects, who will be acting as RIBA adviser.

The overall winner, to be announced in June next year, will receive a £20,000 prize.

The longlist

  • Atelier Cole, Cambodia and UK
  • EcoResponsive Environments, London
  • Harper Perry, Newcastle
  • Kimia Benam & Paul Treacy, London
  • Parallel Collective, London
  • Periscope Landscape & Architecture, London
  • Pixel, New York & Hong Kong
  • Tom Cookson & Sarah Carroll, London
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