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RA hunts for ideas to fill in ‘London’s urban jigsaw’

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The Royal Academy of Arts has launched a new ideas contest for the capital’s brownfield sites

The open competition invites architects to identify a particular site in the city and propose an imaginative use that will fill a piece of ‘London’s urban jigsaw’.

In February the chancellor announced the creation of the Greater London Authroity’s Land Commission with the mission of identifying public sector brownfield land and ensuring ‘that all sites are developed by 2025, to help the capital meet its target of over 400,000 new homes by 2025’.

Many have said the untapped potential of London’s publicly-owned brownfield land could be the answer to the housing crisis.

This competition calls for a new ‘creative and imaginative’ approach to brownfield sites driven by ‘research into the economy, demographics and the urban fabric of surrounding areas’.

According to the brief, the answer could be a series of ‘light-touch tweaks’ or a ‘larger-scale intervention.

It added: ‘We are looking for thoughtful and original ideas that should be grounded in reality but need not be constrained by budget or feasibility, instead, showing what could be achieved by innovative ideas and approaches.’

RA architecture programme curator Owen Hopkins, said: ‘London is at a cross-roads. How can its population continue to increase without at the same time destroying what makes it such a successful city – economically and culturally? This project is intended to act as a contribution to the debate about London’s future, positing how the strategic use of redundant brownfield sites can mitigate some of the downsides of London’s success.’

The RA will select four teams who will go on to present their ideas in front of an expert panel at a series of open crits.

Each team will receive an honorarium of £1,000 for its work and the four worked up proposals will be exhibited in the RA’s architecture space in May 2016.

The RA also plans to invite developers, property professionals, local authorities and policy-makers, to a briefing session about the schemes with the view to getting them taken forward.

The deadline for submissions is 5 October.

Further information on the contest can be found, here.

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