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Emerging practice wins commission in Europan contest

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Mcmullan Studio has been awarded a commission for a site in Innsbruck as part of the latest Europan design contest

The London firm was awarded a joint runner-up prize in the competition, alongside a collaboration between Spanish architects Jorge Lopez Sacristan, Javier Ortiz Temprado and Lucia Anderica Recio. The two teams are now being asked to collaborate and combine their ideas for the 3.2ha plot.

The call for concepts focused on a waterfront former market hall within the historic Austrian city and sought ideas for new ‘lively, open and innovative’ public spaces. Mcmullan Studio’s ‘Happy Valley’ concept proposes a new cluster of organisations dedicated to advancing human wellness.

Studio director Andrew Mcmullan said: ’Innsbruck is unique. But we know from our experience of working on large-scale projects across the world that it faces the same challenges as every modern city. How do we transform it into a happier, healthier and more productive place for everyone? Finding human-scale solutions to that universal question drives everything we do.’

The director – who worked at Allies and Morrison, Heatherwick Studio and HOK before founding the studio in 2018 – added: ‘This is the first time we entered Europan. Creating strong links with Europe is more important than ever. Great design is like love. It knows no borders.’

The Innsbruck prize comes six months after Mcmullan Studio was named one of the two winners in a RIBA-backed competition to design two protoype housing schemes for the under-35s in the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District National Parks.

Europan is the world’s largest biennial design competition for young designers. Open to multidisciplinary teams under 40 years of age and based in Europe, the latest contest – Europan15 – sought proposals for 47 urban sites spread across 12 countries on the continent.

Countries contributing competition sites include France, Spain, Germany, Finland, Sweden and Norway, but not the UK. The competition was themed on how cities can integrate productive uses in an ecologically sensitive manner.

First held in 1989, Europan was set up to boost young European designers and promote open dialogue and co-operation between European countries on issues relating to housing and urban planning.

Now in its 14th edition, the contest is organised by a European federation of national architecture organisations. The UK last submitted sites in 2008 for Europan 9. Runners-ups receive cash prizes worth €6,000.

More than 1,240 entries were received by Europan 15. Last year’s sites included a 387ha masterplan for the remote settlement of Guovdageaidnu in northern Norway, a 2.2ha mixed-use regeneration in Rotterdam, and a new development next to the Balearic Islands University campus in Mallorca.

Architect’s view

Joint runner up: Mcmullan Studio’s ‘Happy Valley’ proposal for Innsbruck

Joint runner up: Mcmullan Studio’s ‘Happy Valley’ proposal for Innsbruck

A healthy city is a happy city. It’s also a more productive place. Our vision for Innsbruck will turn the challenges it faces as a modern city into a tranformative and resilient urban plan that will help Innsbruckers enjoy healthier, happier and more productive lives, now and in the future.

It will create a cluster of knowledge-producing organisations and knowledge-hungry businesses dedicated to advancing our understanding of wellness through pioneering research, innovations and commercial enterprise.

Building on the city’s closeness to the mountains, its reputation for academic and medical excellence, and the population’s passion for healthy living, our vision revolves round a new Knowledge District focused on wellness.

To ensure everyone benefits, every day, our holistic urban plan designs wellness into the city’s fabric – from its riverfront and marketplace to a new life-enhancing bridge. Welcome to Innsbruck: The Wellness City.

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