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Revealed: Emerging studios shortlisted in Prescot Market Place contest

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Newcomer Periscope is among five teams shortlisted in the contest to mastermind the £495,000 overhaul of Prescot Market Place near Liverpool

The London practice, which was set up two years ago, is joined by Bath-based Mark Wray Architects with Seed Landscape, Charles Tashima Architecture, Blackstaff Architects from Belfast and OMI Architects of Manchester in the RIBA-organised contest for Knowsley Council.

Although OMI was set up in 1993, the other finalists all opened within the past eight years.

The anonymous two-stage international competition sought ‘attractive and user-friendly’ proposals to transform a historic 800m2 plaza, which has been at the centre of the Merseyside town’s economic and social life for almost 700 years.

The project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is part of the Prescot Townscape Initiative (THI), which aims to revitalise the town ahead of the opening of its £19 million Shakespeare North Playhouse, designed by Helm Architecture and Austin-Smith: Lord.

Commenting on the announcement, Knowsley Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and economic development, Graham Morgan, said: ‘The Prescot THI is a fantastic initiative and we’re delighted that this shortlisting will take us one step closer to creating a development which will change the face of Prescot.

‘The redesign of Market Place will create a vibrant special space in the heart of the town centre, which will complement other amazing developments including the new Shakespeare North Playhouse and the multiplex cinema, making Prescot even more attractive to visitors, residents and businesses.’

Prescot is a small town outside Liverpool which became a major centre of coal mining, pottery and watch manufacturing during the 19th century. It was also the home of the first purpose-built Elizabethan theatre outside of London, and the childhood home of James Bond actor Daniel Craig.

Prescot’s historic market place is situated within the Prescot Town Centre Conservation Area next to the Grade I-listed Prescot Parish Church, Grade II-listed Prescot War Memorial and the Cables Retail Park and indoor Prescot Shopping Centre. The paved 800m2 plaza is sparingly used and includes an abandoned 1960s public toilet block which could be incorporated into the winning scheme.

Participants were asked to integrate the prominent space into the town’s social and economic activities and promote year-round, night and day use by residents. The competition also encouraged schemes that create a landmark element of green infrastructure and respond to the local area’s history and character.

Judges include RIBA architect adviser Euan Macdonald of Hawkins\Brown, Prescot Townscape Initiative officer Owen Barton and local ward councillor David Williams.

The full shortlist

  • Blackstaff Architects, Belfast
  • Charles Tashima Architecture, London
  • Mark Wray Architects, Bath with Seed Landscape
  • OMI Architects, Manchester
  • Periscope, London
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